Brian Gilmore

Malcolm X in Harlem

Fifty years ago, on Feb. 21, 1965, Malcolm X was brutally murdered in New York City. With his assassination, the United States missed a chance to fully address some of the racial issues that persist to this day. Image credit: Public Domain

Maya Angelou represented the quintessential African-American voice in American art, though she spoke for all: women, men, children, the world.


By Brian Gilmore

It was 75 years ago that Marian Anderson gave her famous outdoor performance at the Lincoln Memorial. The concert, known today as the “Freedom Concert,” occurred on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939.

It was a moment of great symbolic importance for racial progress in the United States.


Here's hoping the Sochi Olympic Games mark the continuation of a positive trend for African-American athletes.

By Brian Gilmore

This week we celebrate the life and courage of Nelson Mandela.

But let's also pause to remember and salute all of the many men and women, right here in the United States, who fought against apartheid in South Africa.

Let's remember Randall Robinson, Sylvia Hill and Cecelie Counts, co-founders of the "Free South Africa Movement" in the United States.

The reasons for the Affordable Care Act were unassailable. By last count, 48 million people or more were without basic health insurance coverage. Many could not get insurance because they had pre-existing conditions. For them, this was a matter of life, and, most likely, death. So, Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld it.


When Steve McQueen's captivating new film, "12 Years A Slave" opens, the protagonist, Solomon Northup, a kidnapped free black man from New York, is cutting sugar cane in the heat and mosquito infested bayou of Louisiana.

The current federal government shutdown is nothing but a reckless, self-serving act by right-wing Republicans.

We were never post-racial.

This is the message of the Trayvon Martin tragedy. The delusion is over.

Many Americans never believed that anyway. Some did, and now they are shocked at the fierce and sustained reaction to the not guilty verdict for a killing in America of yet another unarmed African-American male.

But if there is any good that shall become of the Trayvon Martin tragedy, it is that this false notion of an America that has become a "post-racial" society has come to an end so we can get down to the serious work of really addressing it.


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This time we’ve got some advantages.

We need to improve the condition of workers this Thanksgiving weekend. Here's what you can do.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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