Crosby Archives Fundraising Campaign Ends with a Bang!

Cameron Miller presents Kofi Khemet, the director of The Crosby Archives with a check for $500 from the Kent State Black Alumni.

We held our first event for the Crosby Archives on September 3rd, 2022. It took a massive effort on everyone’s part, including three of my daughters. They came from the ends of the earth to give their grandfather a proper send off and to be here for the Crosby Archives first public event.

Fifty people gathered on the grounds of the Crosby Archives & Cultural Gardens on a warm September day, in Kent, Ohio. There were many people who wanted to come, that couldn’t make it. A number of people made donations, in cash or in kind, to the archives, particularly those who couldn’t make it.

We set a goal to raise $5,000 between the end of August and the beginning of October. Our fundraising efforts fell short of our original goal, but we did manage to raise $3,000 that we can use as seed money to take the archives to the next phase.

Mom and I both caught COVID back in November of 2021. I recovered within a few weeks, but mom’s road to recovery was much longer. After dad was cremated last year we deposited most of his ashes in  Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery. But, we held back some of his ashes to be deposited at the Crosby Homestead and some will be taken to Africa, by one of my sisters. So, we knew from the get go that we wanted to invite people over when we deposited dad’s ashes in the earth. We did not know how challenging that was going to be.

Before mom and I took ill I spent a lot of time gathering information for our next publication, on the story of Black History Month. It took a lot of late nights and a lot of time sitting in place over a number of months, which really took a toll on my body. What brought me back to life was caring for my mother and preparing for the Crosby Family Gathering this summer.

From July 4th weekend all the way up to the very last moment, right before the event would take place, we worked on preparing the grounds of the cultural gardens and the stage. I couldn’t have done it by myself. Lots of people were involved in pulling off this successful event. I’d like to give a special shoutout to my daughters Nefertiti, Nehanda and Isoke, they were here for a week and played a crucial role in pulling off the event.

Our fundraising campaign started a week before the event and ended yesterday with our 2nd biggest donation of $500 from the Kent State Black Alumni Chapter. We appreciate all of our donors, volunteers and supporters. By this time next year The Crosby Archives & Cultural Gardens will be a full fledged 501(c)(3) tasked with the archiving of our local Black history.

This project began over 60 years ago when my parents first got together, because my mother saves everything and dad was extremely well organized. Mom documented a lot of what happened at Kent with her photography, while dad wrote letters, memos and books. The two of them were a real tag team duo. Their marriage lasted for 65 years and the entire affair is well documented. But, the Crosby Archives is not all about the Crosby family, it’s about providing a permanent home for the documents that tell our story and making them accessible to all interested parties, online and/or in person.

During the COVID lockdown we recorded the stories of 80 individuals and plan to continue recording more stories of former Kent State students, faculty and staff. The donations we’ve collected so far will be used to establish the non-profit status of the archives, so we can begin applying for grant monies to renovate the archives and begin the work of editing videotaped interviews, lectures and presentations on the Blakfacts website and the website of the Crosby Archives, once it’s established.

If you’ve got a story to tell, let us know. This project is dedicated to telling the story of everyday people, like the ones Sly Stone talked about in that 60’s classic “Every Day People.”

It’s Not About The Queen, It’s About the Whole Damn Thing!

A Bahamian $100 banknote from the 2009 series with “the Queen of the Bahamas” (QE2) image on it.

Since the death of Queen Elizabeth II (QE2) people outside of the Commonwealth have been paying more attention to the Brits and their interactions with Black folks, in particular. Very little has been done to put the situation into historical context. In order to understand who she was and what she represented we need to connect all the dots.

When QE2 died, her son, Charles III ascended to the throne. Most of us only know about him, because of his “martyred” wife Princess Diana and his scandalous relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles. What we should be asking is how is he related to Charles I and Charles II, and what role did they play in the historical development of Britain’s constitutional monarchy?

The history of Charles I is a bloody tale, indeed, which includes the 1st of 3 English Civil Wars and ends with his beheading at Whitehall, London in 1649. It’s important to keep in mind, while England is in the midst of some very serious disruptions in the continuum they’re also attempting to maintain control of their American colonies. These colonies represented a potential source of revenue through the trade of slaves, sugar, tea, rum and the taxes imposed by The Crown. These same kinds of taxes were being levied on British subjects just like they were being levied on the American colonists and the reaction to them was quite similar, open revolt. It was only 100 years after the untimely demise of Charles I before the American colonists really became a problem, but all during this time slavery was becoming more and more important to the British economy.

The involvement of the Brits in the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade did not begin with Charles I. It began with the pirate, Sir John Hawkins and his patron Elizabeth I (QE1). She not only approved the 1st British slaving voyage, she also funded later slaving voyages of his.

Following the reign of QE1 we have James VI and I (of Scotland & England), who commissioned the King James Bible for the exclusive use of the Anglican church. Mind you, this is the very same Bible that American slave holders used, to justify all manner of atrocities related to the capture and enslavement of African men, women and children.

The story of Charles I continues with his conflict with Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell was one of the landed gentry; senior commander of the Parliamentarian army, in England’s Civil Wars as well as a leading member of parliament. The significance of Cromwell and his role in the establishment of the British Commonwealth cannot be understated. Cromwell rose from obscurity to become England’s 1st Lord Protector. His son tried to follow in his footsteps, but was not up to the task, which led to the reestablishment of the British monarchy, as a constitutional monarchy.

This brings us to Charles II who returned from exile, in 1660, to become Britain’s 1st constitutional monarch, a monarch under the authority of Parliament. Charles II accepted the terms of this new relationship between The Crown and Britain’s politicians, but he didn’t necessarily like it. This might explain why Charles II went to all the trouble to remove Cromwell from his place of eternal rest, in one of the walls of Westminster Abbey, to have him drawn & quartered. From 1660 to 1690 Cromwell’s head adorned the top of a pike at the entrance to the Tower of London. I’ll spare you the details involved in drawing and quartering someone. Suffice it to say, it’s not nearly as ‘fun’ when the victim’s been dead for 2 years. Desecration of a grave is one of the worst things you can do to someone. Drawing & quartering, followed by the display of one’s head on a pike beside London Bridge was a special kind of desecration reserved for traitors to the Crown.

Volumes have been written about the British Crown (monarchy). The story of Charles I, Charles II, Cromwell and their relationship to QE2 and Charles III are but a few chapters in a long and brutal history of Europe’s monarchs. The reign of QE2 was one chapter, but it was certainly not the most important chapter. We can talk all we want about what she did, but we can’t put it into context until we read all the chapters that preceded hers. Considering the fact that the British monarchy goes back over 1,000 years, this is a daunting, but necessary task. Today’s current events all have back stories, unfortunately we typically know nothing about these back stories until tragedy strikes. Our typical response to the breaking news is, “that’s crazy,” but in light of the historical record, much of what happens is quite predictable.

As for QE2 she played a role in stabilizing the UK for most of the 20th century. She is the link to our African past and the future of the African diaspora. As members of the Commonwealth, many former colonies are still tied to Britain, as evidenced by the fact that QE2 is still on their money and considered their “head of state.” The question is, will the British Parliament allow members of the Commonwealth to be truly independent or will they continue to hold them hostage. If they do allow for their true independence, will it be a positive move for the former colonial subjects? Time will tell!

Papa Was a Rolling Stone!

My brothers and I have different memories of our parents and our upbringing, due to the fact that I’m 4 years older than Darryl and 8 years older than Malcolm. They have no recollection of all the vehicles my parents owned before they bought their first Mercedes, or of all the places we lived while dad was finishing his PhD in Medieval German language and history. They don’t remember the virtual ban on popular music in our home or the constant sound of classical music, from Bach to Beethoven coming from our record player. They don’t recall living in the deep south in 1963 or in Lawrence, Kansas before “The Wizard of Oz,” was broadcast on TV, in living color. No, they don’t remember any of this. Their memory is of dad always driving a Mercedes. My memory is of dad always driving foreign cars, from a Renault to a series of VW’s, including a VW bus that he drove from Tuskegee to Teotihuacan, Mexico on our way to California, on one of our annual trips to grandma’s house. I was 9 years old before the first Mercedes was purchased and became standard fare for the Crosby family.

When we held a recent event here in Kent, to launch The Crosby Archives this “generation gap” became apparent. My choice of theme songs for the event included “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”, not because our daddy left us destitute, but because I remember moving, at least, every four years, until we moved to Kent. The song was also significant to me, because of the day of our event, “it was the 3rd of September, a day I’ll always remember, . . . ” because that was the day we inurned my father’s ashes beneath the tallest tree in the yard, which he planted over 30 years ago.

As it turned out Kent was the place we lived the longest. It wouldn’t have been my choice. I wanted to live in a city, with a lot of Black people. To my chagrin that was not to be the case. We did move to Seattle for a few years, where I moved into my first apartment, as the rest of the family returned to Kent. It would be years later before I was able to rekindle my own wanderlust, based on my childhood. When I moved to Southern California I not only got to live in Black neighborhoods, like South Central L.A. and Compton; I also got to live in neighborhoods among people from many other parts of the world, particularly south of the border.

All that to say, my early years, from birth to high school graduation normalized the idea of constantly moving from place to place. I don’t know how dad looked at all that moving. Maybe for him it was just one “long strange trip,” but for me it was business as usual. So, inurning dad’s ashes here at the Crosby Homestead was a big deal, because it speaks to the idea that dad finally found somewhere he wanted to be for the rest of his life and so it is that we’ve placed some of his ashes here, beneath the soil of Kent, Ohio where dad’s roaming days came to an end.

What Are Archives & Why Do We Need Them?

What Are Archives and Why Do We Need Them?

” . . . archives consist of records that have been selected for permanent or long-term preservation on grounds of their enduring cultural, historical, or evidentiary value. Archival records are normally unpublished and almost always unique, unlike books or magazine, of which many identical copies may exist.”

— Wikipedia article on archives

Mrs. Crosby relaxing to the max in The Crosby Archives.

Over the course of history, it hasn’t always been possible to interview or even find a record of interviews of some of our most important and memorable historical figures. For that reason, archives are a key resource for any historian. Recently, archives have been talked about in the news every day. Even so, most people have no idea what archives are or why they’re important. We tend to think archives are the same as libraries or museums—but nothing could be further from the truth. 

Archives consist of doodles, scribbles, notes and letters, among other things. They contain the materials used by historians, novelists, dramatists and anyone else concerned with telling the stories of historical figures and times gone by.

There are all kinds of archives, such as the Gun Violence Archive and the National Archives. In Cleveland, Ohio, we have the Ukrainian Museum-Archives, while Chicago, Illinois has the Carter G. Woodson Archives. While there are many different kinds of archives, the Carter G. Woodson Archives are quite unique, because they focus on the kind of Black historical personalities and events that Carter G. Woodson dedicated his life to documenting. As far as archives go, the Carter G. Woodson Archives are part of the handful of archives in the USA specifically focused on Black history that are well organized and easily accessible to the public. Another Outstanding Black history archive is the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City. While the National African American Museum of History and Culture in Washington, D.C. is still in its infancy, the other archives on Black history mentioned are well established, with histories going back more than 100 years and collections comparable to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

For decades, Black people have sought to establish Black history museums. A museum is not an archive, but museum exhibits are often based on available archival materials. Similarly, books in libraries are also based on archival materials, but libraries themselves are not archives.

So, why is it we know so little about archives themselves? It’s really quite elementary. Archives don’t sound exciting or interesting to the average person. School children have little interest in visiting an archive. They’re not flashy. They’re typically not engaging and hold little interest for the younger generation. They’re like the foundation of a house. People don’t pay attention to the foundation of a house or a building until a tornado comes along and the strength of that foundation becomes the key to surviving the storm. When water damages a foundation and causes a building to collapse into a huge pile of rubble, people pay attention. But other than that, the foundation often goes unnoticed and unheralded. Similarly, archives form the largely ignored, but all-important foundation for much of our historical knowledge.

Recently, archives have been in the news on a daily basis as former President Trump engages in a battle with the National Archives over his papers and other documents detailing his activities in the White House during his term. The basis of the dispute is his claim that he had the right to remove a whole host of documents from the White House, in spite of the fact that many of them were labeled top secret. For most people it’s hard to understand why this was such a big deal. But archivists get it! They understand that his scribbles and doodles may be even more valuable than full-on congressional reports or even top-secret documents. Archives have been known to pay millions of dollars for these seemingly innocuous documents. Why, you ask? It’s because they’re unique and often offer insight into a person’s deepest thoughts, hopes and dreams.

Over the next 10 years, we’ll be working to establish The Crosby Archives as one of the country’s most important archival collections, with the original writings, photographs and recordings of the Crosby Family as the basis for the collection. We hope to see this Black history collection become as significant, if not more so, than the Woodson or Schomburg collections. Keep your eye on this website for more information about The Crosby Archives as we grow and develop this already substantial collection.

If you’d like to donate to The Crosby Archives use this link to access our Facebook donation page.

Kent’s Black Studies Pioneer

Dr. Edward W. Crosby

Next week Dr. Edward W. Crosby, KSU Professor Emeritus is to be memorialized. The question is why? What did he do that was noteworthy? Here are just a few of his notable accomplishments. First of all he became a Black Studies pioneer when he established the Institute for African American Affairs, at Kent State, in 1969. Secondly, he became an edtech innovator when he used videotaped lectures to overcome budgetary restrictions imposed by Kent State administrators. He continued in that vein when he donated a PC to the Department of Pan-African Studies and placed it on Gladys Bozeman’s desk back in the early 80’s. Unfortunately, he’s rarely given credit for his most well known contribution to Black life and culture, Black History Month. 

Yes, Carter G. Woodson did establish Negro History Week as a thing, way back in the 1920’s. However, Negro History Week was never implemented outside of the segregated Colored Schools and even then it was not widely implemented in HBCU’s. Black History Month was another animal, all together. It began on the predominantly White college campus of Kent State and spread to other colleges. From there Black History Days/Weeks, etc. were established in integrated secondary schools, where it met with extreme opposition from White students and parents. 

Negro History Week never engendered this kind of visceral reaction from White folks, because it was limited to Colored Schools, churches and community events. Negro History Week was decidedly focused on the history of the American Negro, while Black History Month has had more of a Pan-African stance. Today, Black History Month is not just celebrated in the U.S., it’s celebrated all over the world in places as diverse as the U.K. and Japan.

Like Dr. Woodson, Dr. Crosby used Black History Month as means to an end, not an end, in and of itself. This may, in part, explain why he’s not widely known as “The Father of Black History Month.”

Why is Black History Month in February?

Frederick Douglass as a young man, circa 1852. 2017

I’ve often heard people speak of an imagined conspiracy by White folks to short change us by “giving us the shortest month in the year to celebrate Black History. This is far from the truth and reveals a gap in our historical narrative, now known as Black History. I’d like to fill this gap with facts related to the creation of Negro History Week and Black History Month.

This morning I watched one of my favorite TV shows from childhood, Daniel Boone. I loved the theme song and found the show engaging in my youth. Years later as I watch some of the episodes, from one of the first weekly shows filmed in color, I still find some of the themes hold my interest.

This morning’s episode (season 6, episode 1) is all about Daniel’s son Israel and how he and his fellow students fought to include Indian studies in their school curriculum. This piece of revisionist history flies in the face of reality. In reality Indian Studies is still not included in grade school curricula. The episode “Readin, Riting, and Revolt” premiered on March 12, 1970, just one week after the first celebration of Black History Month. At that time the issue in the schools was the teaching of Black History, not Indian history.

Like the Indians, the American Negro was said not to have a history, therefore there were no Negro Studies Departments, lecturers or chairs at universities; not even at America’s historically Black colleges (HBCU’s). There were a few individuals who pioneered the documenting of Negro history and it’s study, but they were far and few between, struggling to withstand the onslaught of an American educational system that considered the study of Negro history to be “incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial.”

Carter G. Woodson has been dubbed the father of “Negro History,” however he was not alone in the effort to document the history of the Negro race. The documentation of African history goes all the way back to the age of the pyramid builders in Egypt and the historical writings in the Torah, the Christian Bible and the Quran. The Greeks, Romans, Ethiopians and Muslim scholars also documented much of the history of African people. Among the earliest recorders of Negro history are the likes of George Washington Williams, Delilah Beasley and Joel Augustus Rogers. Along with Carter G. Woodson, these individuals were some of the pioneers who forged a history for a people considered historical pariahs.

African people have been essential in the founding of the U.S. and it’s prominence as a world leader in every field, yet our story is still no more than a footnote in classrooms from Long Island, NY to Long Beach, CA. Why is that? Essentially, it boils down to one word, slavery.

With the advent of chattel slavery, the capture and exploitation of African peoples from Cape Town to Cairo, there was a need to dehumanize the subjugated Africans. In the course of dehumanizing Black people our story was deemed historically “incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial,” which is exactly how Indian Studies was described in the Daniel Boone episode I mentioned above.

This 1st wave of Negro historians were primarily concerned with balancing the historical scales, by showing how civilized Negroes were and proving that we were as good as White folks. Williams’ book The History of the Negro Race in America 1619–1880 was published in 1882 and is considered the 1st overall history of the American Negro. Carter G. Woodson published The Negro in Our History in 1922, while J. A. Rogers worked to popularize African history by publishing articles in numerous journals and periodicals, which eventually culminated in the publication of his findings in books, like The World’s Great Men of Color, 2 volumes, in 1947 and numerous other books, all self-published.

These early books represent some of the earliest scholarly attempts to document the history of the American Negro. I make a distinction here between Negro History and Black History.

The advent of Black History came about in the 1960’s with the rise to national and international prominence of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. Martin was the last great Negro Leader, while Malcolm was the most influential leader of the Black Power Movement. The Negro struggle was characterized by a desire to be accepted as equals by Whites, while the Black Power Movement was characterized by a desire to be free of the mental, economic and spiritual shackles of White folks.

When Carter G. Woodson founded Negro History Week, in 1926, he did so with the intention of proving that the Negro was every bit as good as the White man. In fact, the selection of the date for the celebration was determined by the fact that Frederick Douglass and Abe Lincoln had their birthdays within that one week period.

Black History Month, which was 1st celebrated at Kent State University, was celebrated with the intention of highlighting the beauty of Black history and culture, as something distinct from American history and culture. Essentially, it took the idea of Negro History week and turned it upside down, creating a one month celebration of Blackness with a focus on the continuity between African American history and culture and that of our brothers and sisters from Africa and beyond.

Contrary to popular belief there was no conspiracy to celebrate Black History Month during the shortest month of the year. We decided to celebrate Black History Month in February, in honor of the freedom fighter, Frederick Douglass and the historian, Carter G. Woodson. Of course, President Lincoln’s birthday still falls right in the middle of Black History Month, but little mention is made of him or his “Emancipation Proclamation.” That’s probably the biggest difference between Negro History Week celebrations of the past and present day Black History Month celebrations, instead there’s been an attempt to replace Old Abe with Martin Luther King, as the new standard bearer for liberal Whites.

The Legacy of Dr. Crosby

Dr. Edward W. Crosby, “Father of Black History Month”

Most of us see homeless people on the street and either feel bad for them or shun them, but unless you’ve been in a situation where you had to beg for something it’s hard to imagine how hard it is for someone to have to ask for help. I was forced to do just that one evening in Westwood, CA. I had no money or bus pass and was forced to have to beg for bus fare. Writing this blog and admitting that we fell short of an important goal, to commemorate the passing of a figure who was larger than life, is hard to do.

Today is the first anniversary of Dr. Crosby’s graduation into the land of the ancestors. I had hoped that we could have a proper celebration for the Father of Black History Month, next week, but circumstances have forced me to have to focus on the living, more than the dearly departed.

Dr. Crosby’s widow took ill on November 30, one day after her 89th B-Earth Day, the 1st she’s celebrated in the absence of her husband of 65 years. More than 2 months later Mrs. Crosby is still undergoing the process of recovering from a hard fought battle with COVID and the ravages of her sick bed. As her primary caretaker I’ve had to focus my full attention on her recovery and maintenance of the Crosby homestead.

Mom doesn’t believe in doctors and neither do I, but we’ve had to interact with our share of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals as mom fights to return to her former state of health and activity.

Last year we set out to plan a conference style memorial in honor of Dr. Crosby in honor of the legacy he left us. Anyone who knows the Crosbys knows that reaching out and helping others is something we’ve always done with no strings attached. As we planned to honor Dr. Crosby we began to look at how we could not only preserve the Crosby legacy, but how we could help others do likewise. In part, the event that is now postponed indefinitely, was planned as a benefit to help establish the Crosby Archives as NE Ohio’s best resource for the study of local Black History.

Black History has been under attack since the late 60’s when community activists and Black student organizations demanded Black Studies be taught in every educational institution in America, from K through college.

Dr. Crosby began his career as an educator teaching German & Spanish in predominantly White institutions, but it was not long before he heard the call from the Black community for Black Education. His career in Black Education began and ended in Akron, Ohio. He got his feet wet as an educational coordinator with Akron’s fledgling Community Action Council and ended his career as the founder of, Ida B. Wells Community School, Akron’s 1st African centered charter school.

Over a career spanning 30 years Dr. Crosby participated in founding ground breaking educational programs in East St. Louis, Ill; Kent, Ohio; Seattle, Washington and Akron, Ohio. In each instance the majority of the students were Black inner city youth from the surrounding communities. He pioneered the use of innovative educational materials and delivery systems via closed circuit TV, the Public Broadcasting System and self-published curriculum materials.

Funnily, his most notable accomplishment was the establishment of Black History Month as a worldwide phenomenon reaching well beyond the boundaries of Kent State University, where the 1st Black History Month was celebrated in 1970.

Immediately following the passing of Frederick Douglass his house was turned into a “living museum and monument” enshrining his legacy. Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s Washington, D.C. home has also been preserved as a tribute to his lasting legacy, as the Father of Negro History and Negro History Week. In both cases their homes were preserved, without the assistance of government grants. Their homes were preserved with private donations from individuals just like you and me.

In the case of the Crosby Archives we are seeking to not only preserve his legacy, but also the legacy of members of the Black community all throughout NE Ohio, on and off the Internet. In other words, we want to continue to expand on the legacy of Dr. Crosby by preserving as many documents, photos, works of art, etc., as possible from members of the Black community whose materials would otherwise be tossed in city dumps throughout NE Ohio.

We’re asking everyone in our social networks to begin making donations to the Crosby Archives on FaceBook, via the U.S. mail or PayPal. We can’t do this on our own, we’re going to need your help. We’ve heard from many people who say they would like to help. Here’s one way you can help us preserve and expand on the Crosby legacy.

The Black Panther Party of Self-Defense, 10 Point Program

We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our black community.

  1. We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our black community.

We believe that Black people will not be free until we are able to determine our destiny.

  1. We want full employment for our people.

We believe that the federal government is responsible and obligated to give every man employment or a guaranteed income. We believe that if the White American businessmen will not give full employment, then the means of production should be taken from the businessmen and placed in the community so that the people of the community can organize and employ all of its people and give a high standard of living.

  1. We want an end to the robbery by the capitalists of our black community.

We believe that this racist government has robbed us, and now we are demanding the overdue debt of forty acres and two mules. Forty acres and two mules were promised 100 years ago as restitution for slave labor and mass murder of Black people. We will accept the payment in currency which will be distributed to our many communities. The Germans are now aiding the Jews in Israel for the genocide of the Jewish people. The Germans murdered six million Jews. The American racist has taken part in the slaughter of over fifty million Black people; therefore, we feel that this is a modest demand that we make.

  1. We want decent housing fit for the shelter of human beings.

We believe that if the White Landlords will not give decent housing to our Black community, then the housing and the land should be made into cooperatives so that our community, with government aid, can build and make decent housing for its people.

  1. We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent american society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present-day society.

We believe in an educational system that will give to our people a knowledge of self. If a man does not have knowledge of himself and his position in society and the world, then he has little chance to relate to anything else.

  1. We want all black men to be exempt from military service.

We believe that Black people should not be forced to fight in the military service to defend a racist government that does not protect us. We will not fight and kill other people of color in the world who, like Black people, are being victimized by the White racist government of America. We will protect ourselves from the force and violence of the racist police and the racist military, by whatever means necessary.

  1. We want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of black people.

We believe we can end police brutality in our Black community by organizing Black self-defense groups that are dedicated to defending our Black community from racist police oppression and brutality. The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States gives a right to bear arms. We therefore believe that all Black people should arm themselves for self- defense.

  1. We want freedom for all black men.

Held In Federal, State, County And City Prisons And Jails.
We believe that all Black people should be released from the many jails and prisons because they have not received a fair and impartial trial.

  1. We want all black people when brought to trial to be tried in
    court by a jury of their peer group or people from their black
    communities, as defined by the constitution of the United States.

We believe that the courts should follow the United States Constitution so that Black people will receive fair trials. The Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives a man a right to be tried by his peer group. A peer is a person from a similar economic, social, religious, geographical, environmental, historical and racial background. To do this the court will be forced to select a jury from the Black community from which the Black defendant came. We have been, and are being, tried by all-White juries that have no understanding of the “average reasoning man” of the Black community.

  1. We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace.

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect of the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But, when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

Written: October 15, 1966

Source: War Against the Panthers, by Huey P. Newton, 1980

Transcription/Markup & corrections: MIM/Brian Baggins Online Version: Marxist History Archive ( 2001

The Father of Black History Month Leaves A Living Legacy!

For most of us Black History Month is like air, it seems like it’s always been around, but where did it come from and how did it start?

The year was 1969 and change was in the air. In November of 1968 Black students, led by the leaders of Kent State’s newest activist organization, the Black United Students. Hundreds of Black students packed their bags and headed for parts unknown, for many of them were too far from home to return in the middle of the quarter.

The Black United Students are no typical student organization, they are student advocates. After protesting the presence of Oakland, CA police recruiters a number of students were deemed undesirables and either suspended or expelled. The walkout was a show of solidarity with their fellow student protesters. The students had tried to negotiate with the university administrators, to no avail.

The walkout was successful. The students were reinstated and the university agreed to meet the demands of the students to create a Black Cultural Center, Office of Minority Affairs, a Black Studies Department and give the, so-called undesirable students, amnesty. It was this series of events that brought Kent alumnus Dr. Edward W. Crosby back to his alma mater to create the Institute for African American Affairs (IAAA). The first order of business was to develop a curriculum with no money for faculty or staff.

This is where things got kind of tricky. Without enough money in the budget to do anything but act as a grand registrar for other departments Dr. Crosby began looking at the resources available to him on the campus. TV 2 Kent State’s closed circuit TV network debuted in October of 1968. With their fledgling television studio and capability of hosting a live studio audience Dr. Crosby saw an opportunity. He had become familiar with the power of TV broadcasting & recording from his tenure in East St. Louis, where he took unlikely college candidates and prepared them for matriculation from a liberal arts college. At Kent department chairs were encouraged to develop tele-courses. Dr. Crosby quickly saw a way he could turn this untapped potential into relevant educational content. By using TV2, to transmit information across campus and also record these lectures and cultural presentations for later use in the Institute’s 1st course, “Towards a Black Cosmology and Aesthetic,” he could turn water to wine.

At a Malcolm X Day celebration in February of 1969 Nelson Stevens, a graduate student in the art department, talked to Dean Wilson about producing a month-long Black History Month program for February of 1970. Dean Wilson liked the idea so much he added it to Kent State’s University calendar. Now, the only question was who would be invited as guest artists, lecturers, etc.

As an experienced educational administrator, Dr. Crosby was used to being in situations that required him to use creative financing, in order to achieve his goals. As he put it, “he could do more with a nickel, than a monkey could do with a peanut.” He came up with the idea of using funds from Black United Students for their cultural/educational programs to bring some of his friends and associates to Kent, where many of their lectures and presentations could be recorded for posterity. It was a match made in heaven. BUS needed programming for the Kuumba House while IAAA needed the recordings as curriculum materials for their fledgling Institute.

That first Black History Month program was all the way live, with Pulitzer Prize winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks; Jimmy Garrett, co-founder of the 1st Black Student Union in the USA; “Apostle of Africulture,” Babatunde Olatunji & the Drums of Passion; nationally renowned poets Eugene Redmond & Quincy Troupe, as well as other notables from the fields of psychology, sociology, art, etc. on campus, as part of the festivities.

This is how the 1st Black History Month program was created. From it’s inauspicious beginnings here in Kent, Ohio to the global phenomenon that it is today, Black History Month represents just one small part of the living legacy of Dr. Edward W. Crosby. His focus, 1st & foremost, to paraphrase his best friend Don Henderson, was “to produce millions of Black college graduates,” not by doing ground breaking research or writing hundreds of books, but by counseling, nurturing, guiding and advocating for each and every student that crossed the threshold of IAAA’s offices at Kent. In the end it is those students that make up his living legacy. Students who, oftentimes, would have been left by the side of the road, if not for his constant urging, cajoling and advocacy.

Over the past 4 months, since he celebrated his 88th birthday, it has become apparent that if not for Dr. Crosby many of today’s Black administrators, from Claude Steele, former Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost at UC Berkeley, to Larry Simpson, senior vice president for Academic Affairs and provost at Berklee College of Music would not be who they are, were it not for the influence, counseling and mentorship of Dr. Crosby. These 2 examples are not even representative of the tip of this iceberg. I’ve interviewed over 60 people that knew him well, including former students, friends, family members and business associates and have only scratched the surface, for his influence runs deep and wide from the world of entertainment to the world of business. From City Hall to Southside Mall, from pillar to post and stoop to stoop, Dr. Crosby made his mark.

He could have been an “armchair revolutionary” or a TV pundit, as so many with his type of credentials are wont to be, in today’s world, but for the influence of his mother, who urged him to work for Black people and let the chips fall where they may. Yes, he “made his money, but money did not make him,” as he liked to put it. He made sure the students were at the center of the learning process, but more importantly he made sure they were the focus of all of his efforts, on the campuses of Kent State, the University of Washington, Tuskegee Institute, Hiram College, the University of Kansas, the Experiment in Higher Education @ Southern Illinois University and one of Ohio’s 1st charter schools, Ida B. Wells Community Academy. He focused on the needs of the student, first and foremost.

While his accomplishments in the field of education were notable, he still had time for family, remained close to his parents and his siblings, attended family reunions and used his publishing skills to create a family newsletter and a genealogical scroll.

This brings up an interesting point. EWC (Eternal Work Creator), as he was sometimes called, was also known as an “educational entrepreneur.” I’m sure whoever said that meant it in a negative way, but I’m also just as sure that he would have taken that on as an additional title. He was an expert at promoting the programs sponsored by IAAA, the Department of Pan-African Studies, as it was later called and the Center of Pan-African Culture. He was also an innovator, as was noted earlier, he was an early adopter of new technology, including computers. In fact, his secretary Gladys Bozeman was the first secretary on Kent’s campus to use a desktop computer as part of her job description. The department also established the first desktop computer lab, at the request of Janet Stadulis, an English teacher attached to the department.

We would be remiss if we overlooked the creation of the African Community Theater. It was originally established as the Black Drama Workshop, by Sandy Sheffey. With nothing but their bodies and a small room in the cultural center to work with, the drama workshop began as an adjunct of America’s oldest Black theater company, Karamu House. The workshop had a number of directors over the years and finally became a full fledged theater under the direction of a graduate student in the department, Fran Dorsey. Under his direction the theater became a semi-professional organization producing a number of professional actors and actresses.

The last institution Crosby established was an outgrowth of a project his oldest son Kofi was involved in at Kent, the Progressive Education Community School (PECS). The establishment of Ida B. Wells Community Academy (IBWCA), one of Ohio’s 1st charter schools, was his most significant involvement with elementary/secondary school education. He literally carried it for 10 years, nurturing it and making sure it was solvent at all costs. In the end the school closed after 10 years of operation, due to a negative political climate that evolved over time, which has cast all charter schools in a bad light.

In speaking with everyone who knew him, without fail, the influence and support of Shirley Crosby, his wife of 65 years and childhood sweetheart is always mentioned. And, while Shirley and Ed became known as community mothers and fathers to students from far flung regions of the planet, including a number of African countries, the Caribbean and every state in the U.S., they still had time to raise 3 boys, E. Michael Crosby, Darryl M.L. Crosby and E. Malcolm Crosby, who continues to add to their legacy through the works of their offspring.

Dr. Crosby passed from this world as the sun set on Kent, Ohio the evening of February 10th, 2021. He died as he lived, standing on his feet, fighting for every breath of life he could get. Never one to back down from a fight, we can rest assured he’s continuing to fight the good fight alongside the angels Gabriel and Michael.

The Blakfacts Challenge 2020

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Black History Month we decided to challenge the youth to learn the history of Ohio’s Black athletes. Everyone is welcome to participate in the “Blakfacts Challenge 2020,” but we’re only awarding prizes to young people, between the ages of 8 and 18. Select the link to be taken directly to the Blakfacts Challenge page.

The Challenge is a series of 29 questions about the lives, loves and careers of a few of Ohio’s Black athletes. Our goal is simple. We want to encourage young people to not only shoot for the stars, we want them to know who the stars are, that walk amongst us. This challenge features Black athletes from Ohio, with a focus on Akron.

This Challenge is the result of 10 years of intensive historical research and study. Participants will learn about the athletes, the times they lived in and how they turned “athletic success into success in life.” 

Anyone who wants to take The Challenge should feel free to do so. Use the link below to access the online quiz. The answers to all the questions will be posted on our website and on Youtube, on a daily basis. Make sure to subscribe to this website and the Blakfacts Youtube Channel for regular updates. All qualified entrants who make a score of 80 or better will be entered in the drawing to be Youtube livestreamed on March 9th, 2020. 

Winners of the drawing will receive cash and prizes. First prize winners will receive $20, second place will receive $10 and third place will receive $5. All three winners will also receive a book and pack of collectible trading cards from our “Ohio’s Black Athletes” series.

All prizes will be delivered via the U.S. mail.