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May 12, 1862: Robert Smalls steals a Confederate ship… 

What an amazing character! Someone needs to make a movie about this man. I’m so glad a friend shared this with me, but really disgusted that we never learned about him in school. Not only the obvious mind control and promoting racism that NOT teaching about people like him is part of-but seriously can you imagine history class full of biographies like THIS?!? No one would avoid studying due to the crushing boredom and utter irrelevance of the material!
Do you think that the structure as well as the omissions are designed to keep up bored, stupid and compliant? Maybe?

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May 12, 1862: Robert Smalls steals a Confederate ship…

It has just gotten dark on the evening of May 12, 1862. General Roswell Ripley and the other white confederate officers of the Steamer Planter have just gone ashore to attend a party in Charleston, leaving the black crew alone. This was not unusual except that the crew had planned on these events. Quickly, the black crew’s families left their hiding places on other vessels and came aboard the Planter.

Robert Smalls was the quartermaster, or wheelman of the ship. In this capacity he had become knowledgeable of all navigation channels in Charleston harbor as well as all the gun and troop positions of the confederate armies guarding the harbor. Smalls and the other slaves quietly got the ship underway and headed for the mouth of the harbor and the blockading Union fleet. Soon they would have to pass under the guns of Fort Sumter. To increase their chances of success, Smalls donned the clothing of Planter’s confederate captain. The trick apparently worked because they are not fired upon until after they are out of range.

Planter eventually approached the U.S.S. Onward, of the blockading fleet to surrender. She brought with her a 24-pound howitzer, a 32-pound pivot gun, a 7-inch rifle and 4 smooth-bore cannons. Planter had served as headquarters ship for General Ripley and was a valuable ship because she could carry as many as one thousand troops and her shallow draft gave her freedom throughout much of the coastal waters.

Robert Smalls had been born on the Sea Islands and knew the waters from Beaufort, South Carolina to Florida. Together they were important prizes for the Union. For the Benefit of Robert Smalls and Others….. Generally, any enemy ships taken in this manner are treated as prizes for the men who performed the courageous act. Commander Du Pont submitted the claim’s for these men to Washington despite his misgivings that they would be honored. Since these men had been slaves and the Dred Scott Decision said they were merely contraband, it took a special act of congress to award the ship as a prize, and even so it was valued at $9168, or 1/3 it’s true value.

Robert Smalls was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant, Company B, 33rd Regiment, United States Colored Troops. He was then detailed as Pilot to the Planter. Later Smalls was assigned to the ironclad Keokuk for an attack into Charleston Harbor. Things soon went awry and the order of battle was abandoned, each ship fighting for itself. Keokuk eventually suffered over 90 shell hits and was soon sent to the bottom. Smalls survived and was transferred back to Planter.

In late November of 1863, Planter saw action that prompted it’s white captain to surrender. Smalls knew he could expect extremely poor treatment from the confederates and instead urged the gunners to carry on. The captain took cover in the coal bin for the duration of the battle while the crew fought on under Smalls’ leadership. This action prompted the dismissal of the captain of record and the promotion of Robert Smalls to the position of Captain.

Immediately following the war, Smalls returned to his native Beaufort, where he purchased his former master’s house at 512 Prince St. His mother Lydia lived with him for the remainder of her life. He allowed his former master’s wife (Jane Bond McKee, who was elderly) to move back in the home prior to her death.

Robert Smalls eventually became a congressman after the Civil War. He lived in Beaufort, SC. There is a memorial bust of him in front of the African Baptist Church in Beaufort, SC.

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Common Dreams Highlights Thursday, 18 December 2014

Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

News & Views | 12.18.14


Report: Secret CIA Document Admits US Drone Program “Counterproductive”
by Jon Queally
Document published by Wikileaks reveals agency’s own internal review found key counter-terrorism strategy “may increase support” for the groups it targets.


‘A Slap in the Face’: Vermont Gov. Jumps Ship on Single-Payer Healthcare
by Deirdre Fulton
Proponents of state’s trailblazing effort to build universal healthcare system slam governor for abandoning plan he once championed.
Chevron Halts Arctic Drilling Plans ‘Indefinitely’
by Andrea Germanos
Decision “further proof that technical challenges of drilling in icy waters, where a spill is all but inevitable,” said Farrah Khan of Greenpeace Canada.
US/NATO Building “New Berlin Wall” by Expanding Military Footprint: Putin
by Jon Queally
Russian President Vladimir Putin takes questions on wide-ranging set of issues, but strongest remarks reserved for foreign attack on nation’s economy and expansion of NATO.
Good News for Greece’s Anti-Austerity Left as First Round Election Fails
by Jon Queally
Initial round parliamentary elections, out of three, failed to garner enough votes for any party to win. If upcoming votes also fail, leftwing Syriza Party will get chance at popular vote and best opportunity yet to jettison austerity agenda.
Wealth Gap Between Rich and Poor Americans Highest on Record
by Sarah Lazare
New analysis from Pew Research Center finds that economic gains of the wealthiest continue to soar as the middle-class and low-income families face chronic stagnation.
Judge Exonerates 14-Year-Old Boy Executed in 1944
by Nadia Prupis
George Stinney, Jr. did not receive fair trial in murder case in Jim Crow south, judge says.
more news…


We Can Ban Fracking, New York Paves the Way
by Wenonah Hauter
The decision in New York will have a ripple effect across the country and act to strengthen efforts against fracking nationwide.
Vermont’s Governor Sadly Has It Wrong. Now IS the Time for Single-Payer Everywhere
by Andy Coates
Vermonters throughout the state understand that an equitable health care system must be truly universal and must remove all financial barriers to medically necessary care.
Why the US-Cuba Deal Really Is a Victory for the Cuban Revolution
by Tom Hayden
The hostile US policy, euphemistically known as “regime change,” has been thwarted. The Cuban Communist Party is confidently in power.
“Cuban Five” at Heart of US-Cuba Deal
by Marjorie Cohn
Without the release of the Cuban Five, Cuba would never have freed Alan Gross. And Obama could not have undertaken what ten presidents before him refused to do.
If It’s True on Cuba, It’s True on Iran
by Trita Parsi, Ryan Costello
Almost everything the president said about the failure of America’s Cuba policy could be said of our policy on Iran.
Obama and the Beginning of the End of the Cuban Embargo
by Amy Goodman
The failed United States policy against Cuba, which has for more than half a century stifled relations between these neighboring countries and inflicted generations of harm upon the Cuban people, may finally be collapsing.
more views…


more newswire…

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Richmond, Calif., police chief stands with protesters holding #BlackLivesMatter sign

Daily Kos

Richmond, Calif., police chief stands with protesters holding #BlackLivesMatter sign
Dec 12, 2014 2:18pm PST by Frank Vyan Walton

Via Rawstory.

KTVU Video

Chris Magnus, chief of Richmond police, held a sign that read “#BlackLivesMatter,” a Twitter hashtag used by civil rights advocates, as other officers joined in the peaceful protest, reported the Contra Costa Times.“I’ve never seen anything like it, not in Richmond, not anywhere,” said resident Mary Square. “All these police, and the police chief, holding signs calling for an end to police violence.” “I spoke with my command staff, and we agreed it would be nice to convey our commitment to peaceful protest and that black and brown lives do matter,” Magnus said. “And to help bridge the gap that we understand sometimes exists between police and community around certain issues.”

“We get the conversation about use of force, we get it,” said Deputy Chief Allwyn Brown. “This is an opportunity for all police departments, including ours, to look inward and examine our approaches and get better.”

They stood for four and a half hours, but rather than having police on one side and protestors on the other, they stood together in solidarity that all lives, black, brown, white and others – all lives matter.

Even more than one officer who won’t automatically shoot an armed, explicative-spouting, 63-year-old man in the street on sight, or a set of Texas Rangers who will calmly affect an arrest while being verbally abused viciously by a loud crowd of jeering onlookers, these guys have shown what a “good cop” should be, even if all too often, they aren’t.

Please continue reading over the flip.

Sadly displays like those by the Richmond police and their chief is not what we commonly see from our law enforcement. Generally it goes more like this example, where you have a Sacramento sheriff’s deputy repeatedly Tasing and beating a man with his flashlight—for simply asking the officer to please move his car.

We all know being a police officer isn’t easy. But it’s not the toughest job in the world, it’s not even in the Top 10 most dangerous or deadly jobs. This giving a pass to every horrific thing they might do—in our name—has to stop. We have to reach a point where the consensus is that every person wrongly arrested, prosecuted, beaten, yes, even torturedor killed is not just the “cost of doing business” in law enforcement. We have to realize this is a crime, and punish it accordingly.

We can do better than this. We should expect and demandbetter than this.

It’s really just a shame that we usually don’t, or at least we haven’t been—until now.

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Truthout Daily Digest Thursday, 18 December 2014

Maya Schenwar | Declaring War on Heroin

Maya Schenwar, Truthout: Even as officials eschew “drug war” language, many states’ actions in response to the heroin panic have taken the same old tack. Overwhelming, well-publicized evidence that mandatory minimums do not reduce crime has apparently been cast aside in the swirl of the heroin scare.

Read the Article

Red Love: Toward Racial, Economic and Social Justice

Lilia D. Monzó and Peter McLaren, Truthout: Racism is exacerbated through a capitalist production process that teaches us that some people have a God-given right to pursue their own economic and social interests without regard for others’ right to thrive in the world, free of fear for their own survival, and with dignity and freedom. The antidote is red love.

Read the Article

Can Congress End the Cuba Embargo? Many Republicans Want the Embargo to Fall

Robert Naiman, Truthout: A left-right coalition, supported by the president and public opinion, could successfully push Congress to end the Cuba embargo.

Read the Article

White House Refuses to Meet With Grieving Black Mothers Whose Sons Were Executed by Cops

Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo and Kevin Berends, Black Agenda Report: Despite thousands of calls and emails, neither Barack Obama nor Attorney General Eric Holder has agreed to meet with the mothers of slain boys and men. The women advocate for changing existing laws providing loopholes that allow police to kill their children with impunity.

Read the Article

Boots on the Ground: The Best Solution to Disaster Response on our Waterways

Marc Yaggi, Truthout: Disasters on our waterways have been occurring at an unprecedented rate in a climate of lax government regulations. In February, 140,000 tons of toxic coal ash sludge and wastewater leaked into North Carolina’s Dan River, highlighting why boots on the ground activism is crucial.

Read the Article

Homeless People: Do You Just “Walk On By”?

Pam Bailey, Truthout: Is there a helpful way to respond when you encounter one of the approximately 578,424 people who are homeless on any given night in the United States?

Read the Article

Little Progress in Lima Climate Talks

Nick Fillmore, Truthout: With yet another United Nations climate change conference making very little real progress, a near-miracle will be required if countries are to reach a meaningful and binding global agreement on carbon emissions at next year’s conference in Paris.

Read the Article

Quiet Distress Among the (Ex) Rich

Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism: The restructuring of the economy to save the banks at the expense of pretty much everyone else has hurt some former members of the top 1% and even the 0.1%. The fact that economic distress has moved pretty high up the food chain is a sign that this recovery isn’t all that it is cracked up to be.

Read the Article

The Perils of Criminal Justice “Reform” and the Promise of Abolition

Nancy A. Heitzeg, Critical Mass Progress: As “criminal justice reform” continues to capture public attention, we must never stop asking the hard questions. Ask early and often, because once these measures are enacted, it may be too late.

Read the Article

Closing in on ALS? Link Between Lethal Disease and Algae Explored

Lindsey Konkel, Environmental Health News: In New England, medical researchers are now uncovering clues that appear to link some cases of the lethal Lou Gehrig’s disease to people’s proximity to lakes and coastal waters – and they suspect that toxic blooms of blue-green algae may play a role.

Read the Article

Warning: Fracking May Harm Public Health

Rebecca Rehr, OtherWords: Federal rules are so weak that the fracking industry faces no national obligation to reveal which chemicals it uses in the process. Yet many of the chemicals widely believed to be used, such as formaldehyde and benzene, are known carcinogens that don’t belong in our air and water.

Read the Article

Paul Krugman | Good Economic News in the US Should Not Lead to Complacency

Paul Krugman, Krugman & Co.: The United States had a genuinely good employment report earlier this month, and we’re finally seeing some actual wage growth. Good news can turn into bad news, however, if it encourages complacency.

Read the Article


All Executions Are “Botched” Because Capital Punishment Is Inhumane

Mark Karlin, BuzzFlash at Truthout: Despite the outrage of the media and politicians at “botched” executions, there is no way to make capital punishment humane and morally acceptable.

Read the BuzzFlash Commentary

GOP Lawmaker Wants a Woman to Get Permission From the Father Before Having an Abortion

Read the Article at BuzzFlash

Jim Hightower: Thinking of Amazon Workers This Holiday Season

Read the Article at BuzzFlash

Jon Stewart Dismantles Sean Hannity’s Racism Yet Again

Watch the Video at Comedy Central

How Torture Puts Americans at Risk

Read the Article at Consortium News

Arctic Still Heating Up Twice as Fast as Rest of Planet

Read the Article at The Christian Science Monitor

US Executes Fewer Prisoners, but Deaths Are More Brutal

Read the Article at The Guardian

Here’s All the Plastic in the Ocean, Measured in Whales

Read the Article at Grist