Black History Month

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

By Terrance Turner

Feb. 1, 2021

Today is the first day of Black History Month. It is also the 150th anniversary of a historic day in Black History. On February 1, 1871, Jefferson Franklin Long became the first Black congressman to speak before the House of Representatives.

According to the House of Representatives’ archives, Jefferson Long was born to a slave mother on March 3, 1836, in Knoxville, a small town in west–central Georgia. (Long’s father was believed to have been the son of a local white man.) “Defying the law, Long learned to read and write. Trained as a tailor, he opened a successful business in Macon, Georgia, after his emancipation following the end of the Civil War.”

Shortly after the war, Long married Lucinda Carhart, and they raised seven children. One of Long’s sons later helped run his business. (Significantly, most of Long’s clients were white — they were often the only ones able to afford custom-made clothing.)

Long’s tailor shop catered to politically connected clients and provided him the resources to become involved in Republican politics. Starting in 1866, Long began promoting literacy among African Americans, encouraging them to learn to read and write just as he had done. In 1869, he served on the Republican state committee and was a leader in the Georgia Labor Convention, which organized black agricultural workers to demand better wages, better jobs, and better working conditions.

The Georgia Republican Party nominated Long for a seat on the 41st Congress (1869-1871). According to Congress.gov, Long was selected to fill the vacancy caused by the House declaring Samuel F. Gove not entitled to the seat. (The state of Georgia was not re-admitted to the Union until 1870 because it refused to ratify the 14th Amendment. Some Congress members were expelled in the interim.)

Long won a special election for the seat on Dec. 12, 1870. But he wasn’t sworn in until a month later due to complications in Georgia’s re-entry into the Union. Still, he made history. Long was the first Black man to represent Georgia in Congress. According to the book Black Firsts, Long was the second Black man elected to Congress, the first (and only) one from Georgia elected during Reconstruction. (John Willis Menard was the first Black man elected to Congress, but he was never seated. An elections committee ruled that it was too early to admit a black man to Congress. He did, however, become the first Black man to address the House.) Long served from January to March 1871.

On February 1, 1871, Jefferson Franklin Long became the first black congressman to speak on the House floor. He spoke out against the Amnesty Bill, which would allow former Confederate politicians to return to Congress. According to the House Archives, the bill would exempt them from swearing allegiance to the Constitution.

Long pointed out that many of the Confederates were members of the Ku Klux Klan. “If this House removes the disabilities of disloyal men,” Long warned, “I venture to prophesy you will again have trouble from the very same men who gave you trouble before.” Long’s words fell on deaf ears. The bill passed anyway. But Long’s words were reported far and wide in major newspapers.

Long left Congress when his term expired on March 3, 1871. (Georgia didn’t elect another Black congressman until Andrew Young in 1972!) Long returned to his tailoring business and served as a delegate to the Republican National Conventions from 1872 to 1880. Long left politics altogether in the 1880s, per the Archives. He remained self-employed until his death in Georgia on Feb. 4, 1901.

Pro-Trump Mob Storms U.S. Capitol; National Guard Activated

By Terrance Turner

Jan. 6, 2021

A horde of pro-Trump protesters insurrectionists have descended on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. They breached police lines to gather on the Capitol steps and have now entered the building. Their presence en masse has interrupted Congressional proceedings on certifying President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election. Violence has erupted; the Virginia state police and the entire National Guard have been activated.

According to Axios, “Capitol police ordered lawmakers and reporters to shelter in place within the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, as protesters at a “March for Trump” breached the building following Congress beginning to certify Electoral College votes for Joe Biden. Where it stands: The House and Senate are in recess and all the doors are now closed in the House Chambers, per Axios reporters on the ground. Vice President Mike Pence, overseeing the certification of Electoral College votes, left the Senate chamber shortly after 2 p.m.” (All times are in Eastern Standard Time.)

CNN is now reporting (as of approx. 2:50 pm EST) that an armed standoff is occurring at the door of the front door of the House building. That detail has now been confirmed by Bloomberg News reporter Erik Wasson:

Shortly afterward, some of the protesters have begun scuffling with law enforcement:

Video has emerged of police ALLOWING these insurrectionists to breach police blockades and enter the Capitol, which laid the groundwork for them to gather near the Senate chamber:

https://twitter.com/kylenabecker/status/1346938352138903552

UPDATE (2:25 pm): Live on CNN, rioters were shown breaking into the Capitol building, breaking a window and climbing inside:

The incident occurred roughly 40 minutes ago. In the past hour, word broke that shots had been fired inside the Capitol building. A woman is reportedly in critical condition after being shot in the chest while inside the building.

BREAKING (4:13 PM): President-Elect Joe Biden is speaking live on the violent siege at the Capitol: “This is not dissent. It’s disorder, it’s chaos. It borders on sedition, and it must end now. I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward,” he says. He calls on President Trump to address the nation on television and call for an end to the violence: “”I call on President trump to go on national television now ,and demand an end to this siege,” he says. “I call on the president to go on national television right now and uphold his oath to defend the constitution.”

Biden continues his remarks by quoting Abraham Lincoln: “We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.” He concludes: “I’m not concerned about my safety, security or the inauguration. The American people are going to stand up now. Enough is enough is enough.”

As he speaks, more is developing. The News Station Managing editor Matt Lasslo tweeted at 3:11 pm: “BREAKING: PROTESTERS JUST BREACHED THE NORTH DOOR OF THE CAPITOL. AGAIN. ‘Really? Again?’ one of the heroic, exhausted and frustrated Capitol Police officers escorting me and a crew of others out of the complex just said to his colleagues.”

The President has spoken — finally. In a recorded video message, he urged supporters to go home — and repeated the lie about his election loss. “This was a fraudulent election,” Trump insisted. “But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law & order.”

It s a cruel irony that the “law and order president” somehow presided over a violent insurrection that endangered scores of elected officials and the officers who were injured trying to control the crowds. “Where are the arrests?” asked CNN commentator Gloria Borger. “When it was Black Lives Matter, they had people in riot gear ringing the Capitol, as if it was gonna be stormed,” Anderson Cooper noted. By contrast, mostly white pro-Trump protesters stormed the Capitol steps and broke into the building, and police were shown on camera observing.

Many are noting the contrast in how these protesters are acting — and have been treated — versus Black Lives Matter protesters. When Black Lives Matter protesters were blocks away from the Capitol, a massive National Guard presence was there on the steps. Police were quick to subdue and arrest them. But when pro-Trump white people stormed the capitol — climbing walls, breaking glass, stealing podiums, acting like beasts of the Southern wild — it took hours for the National Guard to arrive. Police let them in and in some cases stood by, watching, as they ransacked the Capitol.

When BLM protests broke out over the summer in response to the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, pundits (many conservative) assailed the protesters as violent thugs. Arrests, tear-gassing, and even rubber bullets became commonplace. Peaceful protesters were tear-gassed in D.C. so that Trump could pose with a Bible for a photo-op back in June. But it was these pro-Trump protesters who stormed the Capitol and breached barricades in a thuggish display of opposition. And they were allowed to do so. CNN anchor Don Lemon pointed out the dichotomy:

UPDATE (app. 5pm EST): Riot gear police have FINALLY arrived on the scene and are assembling on the Capitol steps. They are walking, slowly, down the stairs and dispersing the crowds from the stairs. This has only occurred after HOURS of mayhem by the MAGA crowd.

UPDATE: 5:13 pm CST: The woman who was shot in the chest during today’s melee has died. That’s according to two officials familiar with the matter who spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Nancy Pelosi says that Congress will proceed with today’s scheduled vote on certification. Congress will certify Joe Biden’s victory, she says. It is unclear whether or not the 13 senators who pledged to object will continue to do so. It remains to be seen whether those senators will commit to the idiotic and futile plan that engendered today’s violence.

In the meantime, Donald Trump faces criticism for encouraging the rebellion: he had, after all, told his supporters at a rally today to march to the Capitol. But instead of apologize for ginning up this melee, Trump sent a tweet that justifies the violence and mayhem this afternoon. “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” he tweeted. Twitter removed the tweet due to a violation of its rules. But the damage is done.

The publication Mother Jones is declaring Trump a “terrorist leader“. There is talk of enacting the 25th Amendment, which removes a president from office if he proves to be unfit. But one menber of Congress has other plans for Trump. Rep. Ilhan Omar says she is drafting articles of impeachment. “Donald J. Trump should be impeached by the House of Representatives & removed from office by the United States Senate,” wrote Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota. “We can’t allow him to remain in office, it’s a matter of preserving our Republic and we need to fulfill our oath.”

UPDATE: D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has declared a state of emergency in D.C. for 15 days — extending through the end of Trump’s term.