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The 1972 National Black Political Convention: Success and Failure



By Frederick Williams

With the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Bill, the political door of opportunity opened for Black Americans all over the country. The fruits of that legislation were first seen in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1967 with the election of Carl Stokes as the city’s first Black mayor. It was also felt in Gary, Indiana, that same year when Richard Hatcher was elected as that city’s first Black mayor. Those two victories marked the first time in this country’s history that two Black men had the reign of power in two cities.

By 1971, Black Americans began to flex their muscles at the polls, electing 13 members to the United States House of Representatives, the most since the 16 elected during Reconstruction. To display a united front, those 13 members formed the Congressional Black Caucus. Black Americans were also gaining power in local and state governments. The overall number of elected officials had grown to 1,860 by 1971. 

Despite these successes within the political arena, a segment of Black radicals was still working outside the system. They demanded total change for the government to represent all the people. President Richard Nixon was their target of attack because he attempted to slow down the growth of Black power in the country. There was a division between the elected officials and those remaining outside the system. The answer was to assemble all the disparate groups under one umbrella and the method to achieve that goal was a national convention.

On March 11, 1972, approximately 10,000 African Americans met in Gary, Indiana’s West Side High School gymnasium. The gathering consisted of pragmatic elected officials, primarily the Congressional Black Caucus, represented by Congressman Charlie Diggs, Jesse Jackson, Coretta Scott King, Black Panther Co-founder Bobby Seale, Nation of Islam representative Louis Farrakhan, Malcolm X’s widow Betty Shabazz, radical cultural nationalist and poet Amiri Baraka, as well as Presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm. However, Chisholm pulled out when the convention members refused to endorse her candidacy for president. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) denounced the convention and refused to participate because of the exclusionary policy against white people. Due to a number of bomb threats and several violent incidents outside the high school, they hired guards and Muhammad Ali served as the Sergeant-At-Arms. Entertainers James Brown and Harry Belafonte performed, and comedian Dick Gregory stressed the importance of confronting issues of police violence and the easy access to drugs in the communities.

The convention’s goal was to create a national platform for political activism. The two-day event was filled with rancor from the competing interests. The elected officials believed it was time for Black people to work inside the system, while the more radical socialists and nationalists who were present called for a thorough overthrow of the system as it existed.

After two days, the delegates finally drafted a 68-page National Black Political Agenda that called for Black representation in Congress proportional to the Black population in the country, cutting the defense and space budgets in half and a government guarantee of $6,500 annual income for a family of four. It only took a very short time for the goal of unity to fall apart. The Congressional Black Caucus pulled out of the coalition because the more radical Black nationalists insisted they support Palestine and give less support to Israel. When the Congressional Black Caucus pulled out, many locally elected officials also did. Those elected officials recognized that they could only deliver for their constituents from within the system. Organizers of the convention tried to hold it together with subsequent conventions in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1974 and a final one in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1976. They were sparsely attended and primarily with the groups functioning outside the system. There have been no more since that last one.

One of the convention’s more positive accomplishments was the workshop on organizing for success in political campaigns. Black Americans left Gary with their sleeves rolled up and energy burning to nominate candidates for levels of elected office. As a result, the number of Black officials tripled within 10 years. The number of Congresspersons has grown to 58 as of the 2022 election. There are now three United States senators, two of whom are from the South. The four largest cities in the United States have Black mayors and 10% of the 7,500 state legislators are Black. The most recognizable accomplishment was the election of a Black president in 2008, and the second most important accomplishment was President Joe Biden’s decision to choose Senator Kamala Harris as his vice-presidential running mate, and with their victory, it made her the first female and the first Black politician to hold that office.

Unfortunately, the question still persists in 2023: is the political system responsive to the needs of Black America? Despite these incredible accomplishments, there are the naysayers who are seeking alternative ways to achieve equality. Some are calling for another national Black political convention. If somehow the various political groups were able to convene another assembly similar to 1972, unfortunately, the results will likely be the same as what they were 51 years ago, and that is because we have a divided Black America on how to move forward in our constant struggle in this country to overcome racism and inequality.

Black Life Texas

The Real History of Thanksgiving




The history of Thanksgiving cannot be discussed without recognizing the reality of genocide committed against Native Indigenous people. Free land was the enticement for European settlers to come to the Americas. The Native populations on these lands would have to be removed or conquered to accomplish their goals.

Many foreigners were already slave owners who wanted to plant cash crops using Black slave labor. The history of the United States cannot be fully understood unless one examines “settler colonialism.” Settler colonialism was founded on the ideology of land theft, genocide, and slavery. Those who have written American history with an eraser of bias have found it easy to perpetuate the Thanksgiving myth of Europeans sitting down with Native Americans and enjoying a food feast together—nothing could be further from the truth.

What came before this so-called “Thanksgiving” was murder, genocide, and slavery of Native people before and after the mythical thank you dinner. Puritan settlers came up with the idea of the “Doctrine of Discovery,” a racist law enacted by the Pope of that time and brought to America by the less-than-honorable Christopher Columbus. This is the part of the American origin myth that professors and teachers still ignore to be accepted in the world of historical falsehoods. Settler colonialism is a genocidal policy of murder and land theft to satisfy a false religious belief in racial destiny (also called Manifest Destiny). Settlers required violence to realize their dreams of wealth. No community will willingly give up their land, children, resources, and dignity without a fight, and Indigenous people did not go down without a fight against these ideals that were rooted in a colonial agenda that had a religious spin on it. When European settlers were crossing the ocean and illegally crossing borders, it was something supposedly legal and sanctioned by God.

America was not a virgin land or wilderness filled with wild animals but a land tame to Native people. It was a network of native communities that linked people through roads and trails they carved themselves, which they built long before Europeans arrived. Native people cultivated farmland and crops to survive the harsh winters in the northern parts of America. The Native people knew where the oyster beds were, the water routes, and what plants had medicinal value. Settlers came to America with a culture of conquest and killing that they experienced in hundreds of years of religious savagery between Catholics and Protestants, especially the killing and exploitation of the Irish by the English and Scottish. White supremacy can be traced to the Christian Crusades against Muslims and not to capitalism, though capitalism exploited the idea to the fullest later.

These Europeans did not tame the wilderness. They invaded and murdered the original inhabitants. There are many fake origin stories from one country to the next, as apartheid South Africa once claimed and is now claimed by Israel using similar tactics for decades in a systematic way to force Palestinians from their homes, according to Amnesty International.

The fake Captain John Smith story never mentions his threat to kill all Native women and children if the Native people would not help feed and clothe the settlers from England and provide free labor for the English settlement. When Native people refused, the settlers burned their crops in an attempt to starve out the so-called “Indians.” This would result in the Pequot War, in which settlers would slaughter the Pequot tribe in the 1600s. Unknown to many, this was the first “Thanksgiving,” according to research by historians, in which settlers had a celebration thanking God for their murderous exploits. Scalp hunting was brought to America’s shores by the Scottish Protestants, who also invented the term “Redskin” to describe the bleeding head of one of their victims. Mutilated bloody corpses, which Puritans scalped, were the origin of the term “Redskin.” It was not developed as an indication of “race.” Later in history, the practice of scalping and gutting pregnant Native women would be carried out by the Scotsman Andrew Jackson, whom many now call the “Hitler of America.”

The Thanksgiving Myth is that of smiling “Indians” welcoming the European explorers to America, showing them how to reside in this ‘wilderness,” and sitting down to dinner with them. They supposedly hand their lands off to “frontiersmen,” so these invaders can create an incredible country committed to freedom, opportunity, and Christianity until the end of the world. That is the story — it’s about Native People yielding to settler colonialism. The myth is bloodless and, in numerous ways, an argument for the racist idea of Manifest Racial Destiny. Thus, the Thanksgiving myth was created to present a false history to deny the horrors of American origins and later to invent a fake ideology coined “American Exceptionalism.” American Exceptionalism was derived from these false ideas, created by criminal or ignorant historians, which claim that America is an “Innocent Nation” while other nations may have blood on their hands. Nothing could be further from the real history of America and the truth about Thanksgiving. Today, many of us celebrate family and friends and want nothing to do with the invented narrative. We can always choose to provide our own meanings and, at the same time, educate our community about the lies.

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Downtown SA Lights Up for the Holidays



Downtown San Antonio will sparkle this holiday season with an array of lights and holiday events. 

Set against the backdrop of one of the city’s most historic and charming walkways, five blocks of Houston Street will buzz with twinkling lights, decorations, entertainers, and vendors from Nov. 24 and runs through January 2. 

 Additionally, on Nov. 24, kick off the holiday festivities with the Annual H-E-B Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Travis Park. Festivities begin at 4 p.m. and include live entertainment, food trucks, letters to Santa, giveaways, holiday crafts, a special visit from Santa, and a movie screening of “The Grinch.” The tree-lighting ceremony begins at 6 p.m., followed by the movie at 7 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. 

Get front-row seats to the 42nd Annual Ford Holiday River Parade, which offers a spectacular one-hour parade along the San Antonio River Walk starting at 6 pm at the Tobin Center. This year’s theme, “Holiday Stories,” will kick off the San Antonio tradition. Always held the day after Thanksgiving, the parade and river lighting ceremony will feature 28 illuminated floats and over 100,000 lights (2,250 strands) illuminating the River Walk. The lights turn on from sundown to sunrise every day until the weekend following New Year’s Day. Seating ranges from $15 to $40. It is broadcast live at 7 p.m. at the Arneson River Theatre.

The Rotary Ice Rink, presented by Valero, will also return this fall at Travis Park in downtown San Antonio. Since 2019, nearly 200,000 people have enjoyed the rink and surrounding festivities. For more information, including hours of operation, pricing, and specials, visit (

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Black Life Texas

Black Soldiers’ Convictions Overturned – A Century Later!



More than 100 years later, the U.S. Army recently overturned the convictions of the 110 Black soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment (also known as the Buffalo Soldiers), who were falsely found guilty following the World War I-era Houston Riots. 

The records of these soldiers will be corrected, to the extent possible, to characterize their military service as honorable. Seventeen of these men are buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio. In 2022, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs unveiled a sign telling the story of these men to educate visitors about what happened. 

Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said, “After a thorough review, the Board has found that these soldiers were wrongly treated because of their race and were not given fair trials. By setting aside their convictions and granting honorable discharges, the Army is acknowledging past mistakes and setting the record straight.”

The Houston Riots took place on Aug. 23, 1917, following months of racial provocations against members of the 24th — including the violent arrest and assault of two Black soldiers. Following the assaults and amid rumors of additional threats to soldiers, a group of more than 100 Black soldiers seized weapons and marched into the city, where clashes erupted. The violence left 19 people dead.

In the months that followed, the Army convicted 110 soldiers in a process that was, according to historians, characterized by numerous irregularities. Ultimately, 19 men were executed in the largest mass execution of American soldiers by the U.S. Army. The first set of executions occurred in secrecy and within a day of sentencing, leading the Army to implement an immediate regulatory change that prohibited future executions without review by the War Department and the President.

In 2020 and 2021, the South Texas College of Law petitioned the Army to review the convictions. Shortly after, the Army received petitions from retired general officers requesting clemency for all 110 soldiers.

“As a Texas native, I was grateful to participate in this process early in my tenure at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, and I am proud that the Army has now formally restored honor to soldiers of the 3-24 and their families,” said Under Secretary of the Army Gabe Camarillo. “We cannot change the past; however, this decision provides the Army and the American people an opportunity to learn from this difficult moment in our history.”

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been deeply involved as this case has unfolded and is prepared to assist any family members upon receipt of the corrected records. Relatives of the soldiers may be entitled to benefits. Family members or other interested parties may request a copy of the corrected records from the National Archives and Records Administration, in accordance with NARA Archival Records Request procedures found at (

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