America After Ferguson: A Change ‘Gonna Come (Oh Yes, It Will)

Dead men tell no tales and grand jury proceedings are secret — except in the case of the St. Louis County grand jury.

Prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced the foregone decision Monday night about the fatal confrontation between Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson and the young man he shot to death, Michael Brown, supposedly in self defense. (I learned about the grand jury’s decision on Twitter before McCulloch even opened his mouth.)

The media already had access to the reams of evidence that the grand jury considered. After spending several months listening to 70 hours of testimony and viewing volumes of other information, the panel of nine white and three black members came to the only logical conclusion based on the facts without judicial guidance or a real prosecutor: they could find no reason to indict Officer Wilson of any crime in shooting the 18-year-old Brown.

The carefully-orchestrated release of the information, even McCulloch’s unusual night-time press conference, was the way criminal justice powers that be in St. Louis chose to tell the world, “There’s nothing to the claims of a racially-motivated, extrajudicial killing here, people, so let’s move along.”

But people are not getting over it. Nor is life moving along as usual. The smoldering embers of charred police cars and buildings in Ferguson, the thousands of people across the country who flooded the streets over the grand jury’s no-bill are the exasperated outpouring of rage and grief over the handling of the Wilson-Brown case and, by extension, every other case involving police officers who’re killing unarmed black and brown civilians, seemingly without any accountability.

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2012 Election Season Reveals Racial “Insanity”

Before I left my house to walk to my polling spot this November Election Day, I put on this button that says, “Birmingham 1963 Foot Soldiers Reunion: Inspired by What We Did for Ourselves – And the World.”

I rode a bus to President Barack Obama’s Inauguration in 2009 with some of those ordinary but heroic men and women called Foot Soldiers, who as children had taken part in the 1963 demonstrations during the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement.

The button reminds me that they, and thousands of others I don’t know, paid a heavy price just so that they and I — we — had basic civil rights, including the right to vote. After 50 years, it sounds bizarre that people who looked like me were denied the voting right and other rights due to any U.S. citizen, particularly in the larger Southern society, just because of skin pigmentation. Continue reading →