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January 15, 1990 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1990-01-15

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OPINION

Page 4
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Monday, January 15, 1990

The Michigan Daily

Vol. C, No. 71

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Unsigned editorials represent a majority of tne Daily's Editorial Board. All other
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
of the Daily.
University capitulates to student demand:
MLK Day honored

TODAY IS Dr. Martin Luther King
Jr.'s birthday, and in a radical depar-
ture from its previous position, the
University administration has even
agreed to acknowledge the holiday by
name this year. Though MLK Day was
named a national holiday in 1986, until
this year the administration has rejected
student demands to close the University
on the third Monday in January in
honor of MLK and the struggle for
African-American civil rights. The
administration's long overdue consent
to do so this year marks a victory for
the anti-racist student movement.
History of struggle
Two years ago, students and profes-
sors boycotted classes in protest of the
administration's denial of the holiday's
significance and refusal to give stu-
dents and staff the day off to celebrate
it. Last year, in an attempt to recoup its
losses in public opinion (the New York
Times, the Ann Arbor News, and the
Detroit Free Press had all done stories
on the student protests against institu-
tional racism at the University), the
administration cancelled classes on the
third Monday in January, but insisted
that it was not in honor of what the rest
of the nation was celebrating on that
day - MLK's birthday. Instead,
President Duderstadt created "Diversity
Day," on which the University com-
inunity was presumably supposed to
celebrate and educate itself- not about
-African-American history, or the Civil
Rights Movement - but rather about
that elusive, undefined, and vague con-
cept, "diversity."
The Black Student Union protested
that "the University contradicts its
stated ends by half-heartedly admitting
- that it is not willing and/or able to take
the necessary step that most public in-
stitutions throughout the state have
taken and recognize the third Monday
of January solely as "Martin Luther
King, Jr. Day.... [G]ood intentions
aside, 'diverisity' can evolve into an
administrative code-word for 'let's re-
:ruit a few more faces of color to quell
student demand."'"(Daily, 1/17/89).
The United Coalition Against Racism
(UCAR) argued that "to designate this
holiday 'Diversity Day,' is offensive.
We might be celebrating diversity on
~'this campus if we had 12 percent Black
enrollment and equally high numbers
of Latino, Native American and Asian
American students and faculty. Or if
- people of all races and classes had
equal access to the University... But
none of these things are true." (Daily,
1/13/89). The Daily also received nu-
merous letters from individual students
expressing the same or similar senti-
ments.
Administration bows to
pressure
Faced with students' skepticism
about its motives and growing anger at
its attempt to turn MLK Day into a
University publicity stunt, the admin-
istration this year has finally conceded
to student demands for the day off and

for acknowledgement of its rightful
name and purpose.
Indeed, the University has even
come out with a 12-page brochure list-
ing the events sponsored by the Office
of Minority Affairs and the Univer-
sity's various schools and academic
departments. Though it is scheduled
bright and early at 8:15 a.m., students
should be sure to hear Cesar Chavez,
President of the United Farm Workers'
address at Rackham Auditorium. Ali
Mazrui, a University professor of So-
ciology now on leave, will be speaking
at 4 p.m. in Angell Hall, Aud. B.
UCAR will show the film, "The Mur-
der of Fred Hampton," about a coura-
geous Black Panther activist assassi-
nated by the Chicago police at 2 p.m.
in Angell Hall, Aud. C.
Workers denied day off
Though this year's planned celebra-
tion of MLK Day is a step forward for
the administration, its refusal to give
University workers the day off casts
doubt on its professed commitment to
honoring King. King fought and died
for working class people of color. He
was involved with the Poor People's
Campaign, and he was in Memphis
supporting the sanitation worker's
strike when he was shot.
The people stuck working on MLK
day are lower-paid employees, a dis-
proportionate number of whom are
people of color. Surely this most ex-
ploited sector of the University com-
munity has as much right as the fac-
ulty, students and administration to cel-
ebrate MLK Day. Instead, the admin-
istration has decided the workers
should come in and clean up after the
day is over - as they do every other
day of the year.
The decision not to give workers the
day off flies in the face of the goals of
economic justice and equality for which
King and the Civil Rights Movement
fought. Until it allows workers to cele-
brate the day with the rest of the Uni-
versity community, the administration
has failed in its commemoration of
MLK Day.
Students take the lead
Students were some of the most im-
portant leaders of the Civil Rights
Movement, challenging the move-
ment's leadership (including King) to
include a wider range of social and
economic issues. The Student Non-
Violent Coordinating Committee
(SNCC) organized voter registration
drives, and established Freedom
Schools to prepare African-Americans
for the literacy test they would have to
pass in order to register to vote (while
protesting the racially and culturally bi-
ased test).
The current movement on this cam-
pus is much smaller than SNCC's, but
students at the University must realize
that they can and should lead the anti-
racist struggle, on and off campus.
Although their work is not yet done,
students have forced the administration
to make important concessions around
MLK Day. They must continue the
fight to rid the University of racism.

U.S. government kills a Black Panther:
Fred Hampton's:
by the United Coalition city, state and federal collaborated to cover
Against Racism up what had happened. Illinois State's At-
torney Edward V. Hanrahan, whose office
had ordered and carried out the raid, said
Formed in Oakland, California in Oc- that the police were attacked by the
tober,1966, the Black Panther Party "vicious" Panthers and responded with
(BPP) grew to be a nationwide organiza- "restraint." Hanrahan gave the Chicago
tion, based in cities throughout the coun- Tribune a photo that supposedly showed
try. The Panthers believed that Black bullet holes from Panther gunfire. The
liberation would not be achieved until holes were in fact nail heads.
there was worldwide political and eco- Had it not been for the efforts of the
nomic equality. In order to achieve these BPP and the Chicago Black Community
goals, they argued, Blacks in the United the truth of the attack would have re-
States must establish alternative institu- mained hidden in the files of the Chicago
tions for the Black community, and de- Police Department, the State Attorney's
fend themselves against the racist vio- Office, the Federal Bureau of Investiga-
lence of existing U.S. institutions through tions, and the Justice Department.
armed struggle. In 1969, Fred Hampton In fact, throughout the many official in-
was the spokesperson for the Illinois vestigations law enforcement officials per-
BPP. The documentary "The Murder of jured themselves to keep the FBI role in
Fred Hampton" will be shown today at the murders a secret and to insist that the
2p.m. in Angell Hall Auditorium C. The raid was justified. The deaths of the two
film was made immediately after the po- men were formally exposed as political as-
lice raid on the Chicago chapter of the sassinations after civil suits were filed
BPP. It details the attack, and the Black against the Police and State Attorney's Of-
Community's response. fice charging them with conspiracy to vio-
late BPP members' civil rights.
Just before sunrise, December 4, 1969: Infiltration of the BPP
14 Chicago police busted into a small The case went to trial in 1976 and was
westside apartment where nine Black Pan- followed by numerous and protracted court
ther Party members slept. The police battles to obtain 25,000 FBI documents
q on Hampton and the Chicago Panthers -
the federal government initially turned
over only 225.
hThese documents illustrated the roles of
the FBI, their agent William O'Neal
(forner Chicago BPP chief of security and
Hampton's bodyguard) in conjunction with
U.S. attorney and Federal Civil Court
Judge Sam Perry, who was hearing the
case, in the assassinations and cover-ups.
The documentation on the Chicago BPP
highlighted O'Neal's activity on behalf of
SIthe FBI. The files obtained by the plain-
Illinois Black Panther Party chair tiffs noted that he provided lists of
Fred Hampton. weapons legally owned by the Panthers, a
"carried a sub-machine gun, semi- auto- floor plan of the apartment, as well as the
matic rifles and shotguns along with su- $300 bonus he received for his "invaluable
perlethal, nonregulation ammunition - assistance" in the raid that resulted in the
and none of the usual nonlethal equip- death of Clark and Hampton (Guardian,
ment" (Guardian 12/20/89). They also had 12/20/89). O'Neal is believed to have
possession of the floorplan of the apart- added secobarbital to Hampton's Kool-aid
ment indicating the bed where Illinois the night of the attack thereby preventing
Black Panther Party chair Fred Hampton Hampton from defending himself.
slept. O'Neal also proposed criminal activities
The raid for Party members to carry out and worked
The attack ended after 10 minutes of al- to create tension between the Party and
most continuous gunfire. Ninety bullets other progressive groups, specifically Stu-
were fired by the police. Only one was dents for Democratic Society.
fired by the Panthers in self-defense. The court's collaboration
After the raid two Panthers lay dead: Judge Perry demonstrated his alliance
Mark Clark, initiator of a free breakfast for with the FBI and other government offi-
kids program in Peoria, Illinois, killed at cials by "badgering, insulting and even
point blank range through the heart, and jailing the plaintiffs attorney's" and by
Hampton, shot twice in the head at close keeping FBI files hidden. After an 18
range to insure his death, after previously month trial, the longest in the history of
being wounded in the shoulder and arm. federal government, Perry ruled in favor of
Governmental cover-up the defense.
The police ambush of the Panthers was The verdict was overturned by appeal
covered by the Chicago Tribune, but the and in 1983 the Cook County and city of

murder

.Chicago agreed to settle the law suit and
awarded $1.85 million, but the govern-
ment never admitted its guilt and the peo-
ple who coordinated and participated in the*
raid were never punished.
Why the Panthers were targeted
The Federal Bureau of Investigations
perceived the Black Panther Party's "Serve
the People" programs and their alliances
with progressive groups as a threat to
American society. The local Party exposed
the criminality of the federal and state
governments by providing aid and services
to poor, predominantely Black people in.
Illinois, while state and federally
funded/sponsored social services made
promises but provided nothing. They also
exposed the innate corruption of the
Chicago police department and political
machine through the efforts of their Cop
Watch Program.
Hampton's success in reaching and
working with youth gangs, helping to
form multiracial youth coalitions, and his
role as spokesperson and chair of the BPP
made him a target for the government.
At the time of Hampton's assassination
almost all Party leaders had been jailed on
trumped-up charges, or murdered by the
police. In 1969 Hampton was imprisoned
for three months for allegedly stealing $71
worth of ice cream. Hampton was actually
out of town when he allegedly committed
this atrocity - however the evidence was
never permitted into the court.
Fred Hampton lives
Fred Hampton's life and death would not
be known today had it been left only to
revisionist historians. But because of the
work of the BPP and the Black commu-
nity, Hampton's work and his murder by
the Chicago Police, the FBI, and the Jus-
tice Department has been documented for
us to learn from and pass on.
Myths continue to pervade our under.
standing of the Panthers. The images in"**
the history books depict the Panthers as
armed and dangerous, empty of any expla-
nations of the tactical necessity of armed
struggle. Nor do we learn of their work in
the community: breakfast programs, cop
watches, assisting the elderly, and Black
youth education programs.
The Panthers were a threat because
through their work they exposed the racist
infrastructure of this entire society.
The state sponsored terrorism that the
BPP challenged continues today. Home-
lessness, police brutality, unemployment,
unequal access to education, and the sub-
version of our history through eurocentric
curriculum continues to oppress our
community.
Our knowledge of historic struggles will
enable us to continue those struggle and
be better prepared for those we must wage
today.
Image of the struggle for civil rights:
The Newark, New Jersey Uprising,
July, 1967 - Blacks confront Na-
tional Guardsmen in an uprising
against police brutality, and political
and economic inequality. During four
days of confrontation, the governor
declared Newark a "city in open re-
bellion" and called out the National
Guard. As 4,000 troops patrolled the
city, more than 20 Blacks were killed,
1,000 injured, and more than 1,600
arrested. Two whites died during the
uprising.

0 :

Violence in a different form

by Sharon P. Holland
A few days ago I was riding in a friend's
car and we passed the now infamous Bell
Tower near the Modern Language Build-
ing. We started talking about racism at the
University. The person who was driving
alluded to the racially motivated incidents
that occurred during the academic year
1986-87. He then laid out his own defini-
tion of racism. He believed in a fundamen-
tal difference between racism and prejudice
- racism being a violent act and prejudice
being a form of denied access on the basis
of a pre-judgement.
When I was in grade school, we cele-
brated MLK's birthday in our Church back
home. The first thing we were taught was
that racism is ignorance. I thought about

try's mass media depiction of the Civil
Rights struggle. For all practical pur-
poses, the violent images of the '60's are
the only manifestations of racism that
U.S. leadership has acknowledged as his-
torical proof of this country's deeper and
more serious problems with racism -and
classism. Because mainstream America
has been told that these are the images that
constitute racism, the majority of Ameri-
cans have associated these pictures with a
de facto definition of racism. If there are
no dogs, police men with bully clubs or
fire hoses, then there is no racism.
Whether we choose to accept it or not,
subtle prejudice is racism. But in order to
change our perception of racism, we also
hn-o in meand nnr nneent,,aizntinn of

convictions for batterers are very rarely
handed down if the survivor has not suf-
fered severe physical injury resulting in
hospitalization or disfigurement at the
hands of her assailant.
Because we have a mainstream media.
that delights in the gory details of events, "
Americans have a hard time conceptualiz-
ing what's not in black and white in front
of them. I believe that there are a lot of
people out there like Bob. People who
would never want to be called racist or per-
form what they consider a racist act, but at
the same time, people who reserve and
harbor prejudices and act upon them be-
cause that, after all, is not really racism.
Paper thin distinctions like Bob's are@0
honeA Ant nf ignorne. and arrnance .Th

I-WIN Omm

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