Tuskegee Revisited

A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and the most widely known spokesperson for black working-class interests in the United States, met with Franklin D. Roosevelt and his administration to demand he sign an executive order banning discrimination against black workers in the defense industry. Randolph threatened to bring tens of thousands of marchers to Washington, D.C. On June 25, 1941, days before the march was to occur, Roosevelt issued Executive 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. The order required the armed services, including the Marine Corps, to recruit and enlist African Americans.

The New Black

Black is color of my life. Black are my lover’s eyes. Black her swaddling clothes. She races life in black stilettos, my, my, my. Black is life before creation. Black is life after the apocalypse. The night sky is Black crepe with junkie tracks we call stars. Black like me. Yes. Yes. Black is the color of my heart. Black are my tears. Black is my blood, It vanishes into the black earth. The pits of hell are black. My deeds are black. My future is black. My children are black. The stories I read them have black morals. My children will come to a black end. They are young, gifted and too black. Shoe shine black. Boot black. Tar baby black. Black gold. Black is beautiful. Black is where it’s at. Jazz is black. Didn’t you know. Blues is black. Black is blues. Just a variation. But it’s black. I read black. I buy black. I f**k black. God is Black. You didn’t know that either. Black is the road. Black is the fast car shuffling us to the brink of humiliation. The President is Black. It’s a black thing. That’s a black joke. Black is the long journey perforated by an occasional riot we call color. Black is what we close our eyes to. Remember that. Black is what we close our eyes to. And still we rise because what else are we to do. We are Black.