Montford Point Marines: Forced to Weather the Racism of a Segregated Military by Thomas Pearce

86 Year Old George Bennett entered the Marines at age 19 in 1943

86 Year Old George Bennett entered the Marines at age 19 in 1943

“My father was always bitter about his time in the Korean War, the black soldiers were forced to go into the battlefield in advance of the white soldiers to place the ammunition, a lot of black soldiers were killed that way.” said African American Kentucky State Representative Reginald Meeks, upon the passing of his father.

This was the first I had ever heard of the Montford Point Marines. It was Martin Luther King day, January 20th 2014 and i was honored to attend the wake and honoring by the Monford Point Marine Association of Lieutenant Florian Meeks. It was an emotional reminder of the racism that has pervaded the United States since it’s founding. I decided to dig into this history a bit and here is what I found out.

In 1940 the US congress instituted the first peacetime draft in history. Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. In 1941 President Franklin Roosevelt signed order 8802 which barred government agencies and federal contractors from refusing employment in industries engaged in defense production on the basis of race, creed, color or national origin. It was the first Presidential decree issued on race since reconstruction. In 1942 around 1500 African Americans began training at the segregated Montford Point training camp. Altogether over 20,000 African American soldiers were trained at the segregated training North Carolina camp. White marines were trained at Paris Island in South Carolina.

To be honest, I am not going to write an article about “Proud patriotic African Americans” who were forced to serve in a segregated military. What I will write about is how working  class African Americans have been forced by either a draft or economic hardship to serve under dangerous conditions the very government that was refusing to let them vote. It is interesting how when the United States was fighting the “fascism of Hitler” the US had a segregated military. In fact up until 1949 African American soldiers visiting nearby Camp Lejeune would have to have a white escort. Let us also be clear that the US needed fresh meat for it’s military machine. The order outlawing a segregated military was not signed until 1949. Just in time for the Korean War. Montford Point was disbanded at that time.

World War 2 and then the Korean War meant that the US was going to need every able bodied man in it’s borders to win it’s imperialist wars. The United States did not enter World War 2 to save Jewish people who were being killed by Hitler, instead the US entered the war only because they were attacked by Japan. I refuse to acknowledge any war the US has participated in as a “good war”. The United States has gone to war to advance it’s imperialist goals. It did not ever go to war to save anyone. Back to the Montford Point Marines.

It was told to me that African American Marines in Korea were usually given suicide missions and dangerous jobs like carrying ammunition to battle points in advance of white soldiers. They were discriminated against. They often had their performance evaluations hijacked by racists intent on disputing black soldiers combat readiness like the sham evaluation that was given the 24th infantry division for abandoning a post overrun by Korean forces whilst they were given zero support or any advance knowledge of what was about to happen to them.

I was honored today to support my brother and friend Reginald Meeks as his family was honored by the Montford Point Marine Association. Here is the thing that really startled me. The Montford Point Marines did not receive the Congressional Medal of Honor until 2012, under president Obama. Florian Meeks was unable to attend the ceremony because of health conditions. His medal was delivered by Congressman John Yarmuth. They received the Medal for serving the US Marines under racist conditions a in the deep south and doing their jobs under ridiculous and harsh conditions. The ceremony was riveting. Congressman John Yarmuth presented his family with a flag that flew in Florian’s honor over the US capitol.

A video recording of Florian Meeks final statement to the world was played he said “I want to be remembered as a Christian, a husband, and a man who did his job, I did my job! I did my job!” Yes you did sir.


“I Have a Dream”: A Return to Militancy! Down With Imperialism!

On this Martin Luther King day I am remembering how devastated my mother and father were when they found out Martin Luther King had been killed in Memphis while standing in solidarity with sanitation workers there. I didn’t understand at the age of 7 why my parents were so upset. As I grew older I did begin to understand clearly that my parents had been active in the desegregation movement at the time and they cared about King and the future of the movement. They were right to be concerned about the future of the movement.

We now know that the CIA, FBI, and all of the US government’s intelligence wings were working overtime to destroy Malcolm X,  Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael), the Black Panther Party, the American Indian Movement, the Brown Berets and every other group responsible for the quest for justice in this illegal settler state built by slaves and settled by invaders.

We now know that this government works overtime everyday to make sure there is not a return to the militancy of the 60’s and 70’s. They did away with the draft to make the anti-war movement go away. They met a handful of demands in Indian country that have not delivered real power. They allowed Barrack Obama to get elected president and then bomb Libya give weapons to fascists in Syria, and use drones to wage war killing hundreds if not thousands of innocent people around the world. So has justice been served? 2 million Americans in jail, mostly for nonviolent crimes point to a vast injustice. Poverty in Indian country would tell us, NO! The failure to pass a comprehensive immigrant rights law points to insidious injustice. We have a lot of work to do.

I do not write this to presume that I know what the African American movement in this country needs to do at this point to address the historic and current injustices affecting that oppressed nation of people. Given the fact that Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Kwame Ture, and other historic African American leaders were engaged in taking on issues of war, poverty of all people, imperialism, and the dismantling of capitalism I will give my views on where we need to go from here in regard to taking down the beast of imperialism.

Kwame Ture left the United States for Africa in 1969, shortly after King’s death to begin building the Al African People’s Revolutionary Party. He no longer felt he could spend his life force in the USA, after the assassination of King and X he knew that the US government would not be happy until the father of the “Black Power  movement” Kwame Ture was dead as well. He felt that by building a militant movement against imperialism in Africa would be time better spent. I personally feel he was right. Most of the players in the civil rights movement had abandoned lofty pursuits of toppling capitalism.  A goal King had spoken to before he died.

Martin Luther King Marching Alongside Black Power Leader Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael)

Martin Luther King Marching Alongside Black Power Leader Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael)

We know that King worked with Kwame and Malcolm to develop a strategy of fighting in the mainstream and holding out the possibility of the militancy of the Black Panther Party and others to hold the US government’s feet to the fire. King had declared war on poverty, condemned the Vietnam war, denounced capitalism, and was embracing the union movement.

They killed him for it. Malcolm was even more strident in his condemnation of US imperialism. They Killed him. Kwame lived out his life fighting for an anti-imperialist Africa. He died of Prostate cancer he believed the CIA had poisoned him with. He knew the leadership of the African American civil rights movement was not up to the task of continuing to wage the militant struggle that was needed. He moved on.

Malcolm X had a lot of respect for Martin Luther King and had worked together to coordinate a strategy of basically demanding peacefully civil rights but then holding out the threat of militancy to force the Kennedy and the Johnson administrations to deliver the Voting Rights Act and other demands. It had worked brilliantly. They then began to set their sites on the Vietnam War that African Americans were disproportionately dying in.

Malcolm X and Martin Luther King

Malcolm X and Martin Luther King

The movement was at a fever pitch at the point King was killed and then Malcolm X. The strategy was clear, it was working, it was effective. The FBI stepped in and began to neutralize it’s enemies first King, then X, then utilizing operation COINTELPRO they began to take apart the Black Panther Party, the American Indian Movement, the Puerto Rican independence movement, the Brown Berets (Chicano) and even the white Students for a Democratic Society. They were never going to be happy as long as anyone was left breathing air who advocated the destruction of capitalism and imperialism.

Let’s be clear. The gains of the 60s’ have been under attack ever since they were won. The Voting Rights Act had hardly been put into place when white politicians began to try to dismantle it. In 2013, the Republican Supreme Court struck down the voting rights act. Affirmative Action also under attack from it’s beginning fell under the knife of the Supreme Court.

Almost everything King and his militant cohorts had won was dead and gone by 2013. So where are we now? What should we do now? We must fight back!Every year I watch as Martin Luther King celebrations roll out on January 20th. That is nice and I have no problem with remembering Dr. King. He was a great man. So was Malcolm X, so was Kwame Ture, so were many of the people the FBI and CIA assassinated great men and women. We should celebrate them all. The government set aside a month for black history and we are supposed to be happy? They killed, jailed, and destroyed the lives of thousands and never were held accountable for their role in it.

Why are we supposed to be happy? Because the Voting Rights Act was dismantled by the Supreme Court? Because Affirmative Action is dead? Well I for one am not happy. In honor of Dr. King I am pissed off! Pissed off that the civil rights movement has largely been destroyed by the FBI. Pissed off that we are in so many military conflicts I cannot remember them all, pissed off our government assassinated Gaddafi, pissed off they are still taking Indian land without a shot fired! Pissed off at so many things.

I cannot help but argue that we need to pick up where King, X, Kwawe, Bellecourt and others left off and redouble our efforts to topple this capitalist system of governance. For my part I will fight for the indigenous people, our lands, and our rights till the day I die. I will stand with my African American brothers and sisters when they are fighting against racism and this unjust system, I will stand with my Latino brothers and sisters to demand the US get their hands off Venezuela, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and all nations standing against US imperialism. I will stand with my sisters fighting for women’s rights. I will continue to stand as long as I have breath to see capitalism and imperialism are dead.

Where we need to be as a radical movement is unapologetic and demanding. We need a movement that is not centered on one or two leaders that can easily be killed, bought off, or silenced. We need a new movement that does not have a stopping point. That keeps fighting, keeps going forward. Dr. King had a dream. A dream that capitalism would be done away with. A dream that imperialist wars would cease. That poverty would be ended. I will honor that dream by fighting against imperialism.

Death Penalty For Freedom Industries and the Koch Brothers for Polluting our rivers

As the rest of the country reads about the toxic slew heading down the Ohio River from the Elk River in West VA in disbelief those of us who live in the Ohio Valley, Kentucky, West VA, Ohio are watching in disgust as the corporate media misses the story. WE ARE BEING POISONED BY THE COAL INDUSTRY! All of us have mercury in our water, selenium, hexavalent chromium to name a few as well. How long are we going to sit and watch while young people who commit economic crimes are sentenced to 10 years in jail for robbing a corner grocery and the Koch Brothers waltz on down the road always missing the raindrops. It is time for a change.

It is time we have Chinese styled penalties for corporate polluters that are putting our families, the wildlife, and the earth at risk everyday by poisoning our waters, our air, and the land. In China when a corporation put toothpaste on the market with some of the chemicals contained in antifreeze and children died in China, Panama and elsewhere the head of the plant was put to death. He wasn’t slapped on the wrist, he wasn’t jailed, he was executed! It is time the West took corporate crimes seriously instead of rewarding stockholders every step of the way. I call for the death penalty for all corporations participating in Mountaintop Removal, toxic spills, poisoning neighborhoods, and hurting the land and the people. Maybe they would stop and think before dumping 30,000 gallons of toxic slew into our rivers.

That is all I have to say today.

On Mount Shasta

Scalped Mystery Woman Native, Police Seek Help in Cold Case, Possible Hate Crime

AIM IN KY logo

I don’t normally repost other people’s articles but I will in this case because I am in the article.

“She’s someone’s daughter, mother, sister, auntie,” said Thomas Pearce, who is co-chair of the American Indian Movement of Indiana and Kentucky. The as-yet-unidentified woman he was speaking of was shot and scalped in rural Kentucky in 2011. Forensic science has determined she was Native American and tall, but not a lot more.

“It was a hate crime,” said Guy Jones, who is Hunkpapa Lakota and co-founder of the Miami Valley Council for Native Americans, in Dayton, Ohio. “And the person who did it is still out there.” He said he hoped going to the media again would shake loose information the police can use to solve what they now consider a cold case.

“When we read about the case in a local newspaper in 2011, we were shocked,” said Pearce, who has Ojibway ancestry. “What happened to her was ferocious and gruesome. We were also surprised by where she was found—a place where few Native people live. We wondered if she died elsewhere and was taken there.”

Kentucky State Police Detective Chad Winn agreed. “She could have been killed anywhere, perhaps not even in Kentucky. We know very little about her or how she ended up in that area.” Winn was part of the team that investigated the site where the woman’s scattered bones were first spotted—by students searching for a rare tree, according to a 2012 Associated Press story. “She could have been a missing person, a runaway, the victim of someone she knew. We just don’t know. We have to get her identified. Then we can figure out what happened.”

Winn encouraged anyone who can think of a loved one they haven’t heard from in awhile to contact him at his state police post (270-728-2010). The remains were found off the Cumberland Parkway and I-65 in Barren County, Kentucky, as many as 15 years ago. The woman’s bones had been scattered by animals and water runoff, so the police used forensics, including DNA testing, to determine that she was American Indian, between 5 feet 9 inches and 6 feet tall and between 20 and 50 years old, according to Winn. She had had a root canal and other modern dental work. Marks on her skull fragments showed she’d been scalped.

The information that does exist about the woman was placed in numerous national missing persons and crime databases, including the FBI’s National Crime Information Center and Violent Criminal Apprehension Program and the Justice Department’s National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. “I also contacted the [Bureau of Indian Affairs],” Winn said.

Nothing has come back. But then, without relatives to match her DNA to or a relevant missing persons report, the investigation is at a standstill. “We have no complaints about how the police handled this,” said Pearce. “We just want to help them.”

Said Detective Winn: “Please assist us in identifying her and finding the person who did this.”



Canadian Government Trembles and Not Because of the Weather but Because AIM Leader Terrance Nelson is Elected Grand Chief

Grand Chief Terrance Nelson Addressing the White Privilege Conference in Seattle April 2013

Grand Chief Terrance Nelson Addressing the White Privilege Conference in Seattle April 2013

 The Canadian government is Trembling and not because of the weather but Because American Indian Movement leader and former Roseau River Chief Terrance Nelson is elected Grand Chief Southern Chiefs Organization. He will represent 33 nations in Manitoba.33 Chiefs voted to elect a grand Chief, 33 elected Chiefs voted and the decided they needed a War Chief. 33 nations that stand in the way of white economic designs on Indian land and Indian resources.  What does this mean to you? Maybe nothing, but in Indian Country it is the shot heard around the hemisphere. 

The first time I met Terrance Nelson I was at Wounded Knee South Dakota for the 40th Anniversary of the Wounded Knee Uprising. The event was typical AIM militancy complete with young warriors carrying AK 47s and AR-15s, drumming, and of course an AIM conference was held at the Prairie Winds Casino where Terrance; along with Keith Lussier Chair of AIM from Red Lake, Clyde Bellecourt Executive Director, Bill Means of the International Indian Treaty Conference and others; addressed the eager organizers in attendance.  Terrance caught my ear as he began speaking about the need for indigenous communities to stop taking the defense and go on the offense by taking control of their own resources and begin creating a new economy. He spoke of the need to stop acting as victims and the need to begin acting as warriors.

Terry spoke of his trip to Iraq and Iran to witness first hand the devastation that was being caused by US Sanctions on both countries and how a similar  situation Canadian First Nations people have been dealing with because of the theft of resources being represented by the Tar Sands and other recent developments there were  important. I said to myself, “This no typical Indian leader this man has an international liberation perspective!” 

Grand Nelson Addressing a meeting of the American Indian Movement at Pine Ridge South Dakota during the 40th Anniversary of Wounded Knee

Grand Nelson Addressing a meeting of the American Indian Movement at Pine Ridge South Dakota during the 40th Anniversary of Wounded Knee

I got to talk to Terrance later at the health center before dinner and he immediately began to ask me questions about my capabilities and resources at my disposal to help build the movement.  He was all business. Needless to say I was, and continue to be, impressed. So impressed I arranged for Terrance to be the keynote speaker at the annual White Privilege Conference in Seattle in April. It was there I began to get to know him better.

At the conference he spoke to 2000 people gathered there from all walks of life who were there to discuss fighting racism within the progressive movement. He made his message very clear. He went over the economics of oil and how the First nations people of Canada were fighting a war against imperialist forces who were stealing their resources without paying a dime. He was critical of white folks obsessed with fighting the environmental impacts of the Tar Sands with no recognition that these resources are being stolen plain and simple and that First Nations people would have to fight to retain what is theirs by “any means necessary”. In fact he quoted Malcolm X during his speech and sounded like the American Indian incarnation of Malcolm X.

Grand Chief Nelson with Doctor Eddie Moore of the White Privilege Conference and my self in Seattle April 2013

Grand Chief Nelson with Doctor Eddie Moore of the White Privilege Conference and my self in Seattle April 2013

Why is it significant that Terrance Nelson has been elected Grand Chief of 33 nations in Canada? Try this quote on for size?

“It is time to quit being loyal Canadians, we don’t need the white man’s money. We need a share of our own wealth.” “There’s only two ways to deal with the white man. Either you pick up a gun or you stand between him and his money.”  Terrance Nelson Chief, Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation, Manitoba

Well a little background is needed. For one, the Canadian Government just held Chief Nelson responsible for 10 million dollars in damages for blockading rail lines during what has been called the Idle No More uprising that erupted across Canada and much of the United States in 2012 and 2013 and is still burning today. It goes much deeper than that though. Let me explain.

Terrance Nelson was once the chief of the Roseau River nation.  He was the chief there for 5 terms, and reelected each time. Ever the militant, he had pissed off the Canadian Government to no end while he was chief and so they had him removed. They hauled him in to Canadian federal court and paid for the lawyers of the hand picked Indians they wanted to replace him with and they paid the two most expensive law firms in Manitoba to represent the case of the sell outs. They successfully had him removed. Why? He doesn’t take any shit off the white man that is why.

33 Indian chiefs angry at Chief Nelson’s removal, angry at the cuts in resources, angry at the theft of land, came together to elect new chiefs, one of whom would be Grand Chief of their nations. Those chiefs elected Terrance Nelson, Vice Chair of the American Indian Movement, former and ousted Chief of the Roseau River Nation, a devout militant, and ally of the people of the Middle East fighting US and Canadian military involvement in their affairs, and a intelligent and wonderful man. This has the Canadian government trembling for good reason.

Chief Nelson, with whom I spoke this afternoon Saturday, January 11th, 2014, is planning to revolutionize how the nations of his people deal with the Canadian government. Top on his list? Creating 5 urban reserves in Winnipeg to bring his people into the mainstream, economically and politically. He asserts that over 400 million dollars of economic development would be gained for First Nations people by creating these reserves. That they would also gain jobs and a place in mainstream Manitoba. He wants to stand up to the Canadian government to demand economic and environmental justice. He wants an end to the wholesale theft of his people’s land and resources. He wants police to treat his people humanely. He wants to send North Americans a message.

Chief Nelson inspires the best in me and in many other people in Indian country. He has the message we want to hear at a time we need to hear it. The most important thing is the message will be heard whether North Americans are ready to hear it or not. There is a sort of Intifada happening in much of Indian country and Terrance Nelson’s election is in my opinion a validation of that Intifada.