Category Archives: 1. Injustiça

Os Primeiros Anos

Em Atlanta, uma criança negra não podia ir a nenhum parque. Eu não pude frequentar as chamadas escolas para Brancos. Em muitas lojas da baixa da cidade, eu não podia entrar num restaurante para comer um hambúrguer. ou tomar um café. Não podia entrar entrar em nenhuma sala de espectáculos. Havia um ou dois cinemas para Negros, mas não passavam os grandes filmes. Quando os passavam, era com dois ou três anos de atraso.

Naquele tempo, havia nos autocarros normas rígidas de segregação, que obrigavam os Negros a sentar-se nos lugares da parte de trás. Os Brancos sentavam-se nos da frente, e mesmo quando não havia brancos no autocarro esses lugares continuavam reservados exclusivamente a Brancos, pelo que os Negros tinham de viajar de pé junto de lugares vazios. Eu acabava por ter de levar o corpo para a parte de trás, mas sempre que entrava num daqueles autocarros deixava o espírito nos bancos da frente. E dizia para os meus botões: “Um dia destes vou por o meu corpo onde tenho o espírito.”

CARSON, Clayborne. Eu tenho um sonho – A Autobiografia de Martin Luther King. Lisboa, 2006

Ku Klux Klan

Since 1865, the Ku Klux Klan has provided a vehicle for a kind of hatred in America, and its members have been responsible for atrocities that are difficult for most people to even imagine.

The Klan itself has had three periods of significant strength in American history — in the late 19th century, in the 1920s, and during the 1950s and early 1960s when the civil rights movement was at its height. The Klan had a resurgence again in the 1970s, but did not reach its past level of influence. Since then, the Klan has become just one element in a much broader spectrum of white supremacist activity.

For many years the KKK quite literally could get away with murder. The Ku Klux Klan was an instrument of fear, and black people, Jews and even white civil rights workers knew that the fear was intended to control us, to keep things as they had been in the South through slavery, and after that ended, through Jim crow. This fear of the Klan was very real because, for a long time, the Klan had the power of Southern society on its side.

by Julian bond – “Ku Klux Klan, A History of Racism and Violence”

Emmett Till

The brutal movement that mobilized the civil rights movement

When 14-year-old Emmett Till took a train from Chicago to Money, Mississippi in the summer of 1955, he entered the heart of Jim Crow country. Though he might have experienced segregation in Chicago, the outgoing youngster had little concept of how hostile white Southerners could be to African Americans.

Before putting her only son Emmett on bus in Chicago, his mother gave him a stern warning: “Be careful. If you have to get down on your knees and bow when a white person goes past, do it willingly.”

Emmett, all of 14, didn’t heed his mother’s warning. On Aug. 27, 1955, Emmett was beaten and shot to death by two white men who threw the boy’s mutilated body into the Tallahatchie River near Money, Mississippi. Emmett’s crime: talking and maybe even whistling to a white woman at a local grocery store.

Emmett’s death came a year after the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision outlawed segregation. For the first time, blacks had the law on their side in the struggle for equality. Emmett’s killing struck a cord across a nation. White people in the North were as shocked as blacks at the cruelty of the killing. The national media picked up on the story, and the case mobilized the NAACP, which provided a safe house for witnesses in the trial of the killers. Emmett became a martyr for the fledgling civil rights movement that would engross the country in a few years.

The Emmett Till murder trial, 1955

Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song

In 1970, Melvin Van Peebles—along with Gordon Parks and Ossie Davis, one of the first African-American filmmakers to find work in Hollywood—directed a moderately successful serio-comedy entitled Watermelon Man , about a white bigot who suddenly finds himself in the body of a black man. With the $70,000 he earned from that film, plus additional funds from a number of independent sources, Van Peebles was able to finance his new project, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song —so named in order to solicit at least a modicum of coverage from the mainstream media.

On the one hand, Sweetback is a film so original in both conception and realization that it managed to defy all traditional genre expectations, thereby satisfying the desire (at least temporarily) for a popular alternative to the dominant Hollywood paradigm. On the other hand, Sweetback is a film that borrows narrative threads and conventions from an assortment of different genres (including the chase film, the biker film, and soft-core porno), thereby proving itself a forerunner of those “postmodern” hybrids so prevalent in theaters today. Finally, Sweetback is a film whose staggering and completely unexpected commercial success ensured its place at the head of an explosion in black-marketed, black-cast, and/or black-directed productions, an explosion that soon went by the ambivalent name of “Blaxploitation cinema.”

Sweetback makes manifest its revolutionary pretensions with the following words, which appear at the bottom of the screen before the opening credits role: “This film is dedicated to all the Brothers and Sisters who have had enough of the Man.” The shocking first scene finds a pre-teen Sweetback (played by Melvin’s son, Mario Van Peebles) working in a whorehouse, where a grateful call-girl screams out his nickname during orgasm. Though some viewers found symbolic beauty here (Black Panther leader Huey Newton went so far as to claim that the woman “in fact baptizes [Sweetback] into his true manhood”), others in the African-American community, such as Ebony reviewer Lerone Bennett, Jr., felt that Sweetback’s initiation is not so much an “act of love” as “the rape of a child by a 40-year-old prostitute. The film concludes on an ominous note for white audiences, as the words “A Baadasssss nigger is coming to collect some dues” flash across the screen.

Although neither the popularity of Sweetback at the time of its release, nor its influence on future black filmmakers, can possibly be denied, its legacy—as well as that of Blaxploitation cinema generally— remains a matter of controversy to this day. In interviews, as well as in the promotional book accompanying its theatrical release, Van Peebles called the film “revolutionary,” as it tells the story of a “bad nigger” who mounts a successful challenge against the oppressive white power system. This view was supported by Newton, who devoted an entire issue of the Black Panther party newspaper to Sweetback. Bill Cosby has reportedly called the film a work of genius. And a number of African-American intellectuals sought to add Sweetback’s name to the roll call of black folkloric heroes in virtue of his prodigious virility.

Unfortunately, what tends to get lost in the heated debates surrounding Sweetback ‘s socio-political “message” is an acknowledgment and consideration of Van Peeble’s innovative directorial style. By making creative use of such techniques as montage, superimposition, freeze frames, jump cuts, zoom-ins, split-screen editing, stylized dialogue, multiply-exposed scenes, and a soulful musical score by the black rock group Earth Wind and Fire, Van Peebles broke new ground and challenged viewers’ expectations. All of this should make obvious the point that Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song is not just a statement, protest, or historical oddity, but a unique cinematic experience for people of all colors to reflect upon, appreciate, and enjoy.

by Steven Schneider

Sweet Baadassss Song Intro


Sidney Poitier

“Sidney Poitier created a one-man revolution in the way the cinema portrayed people of color. The dignity, intelligence and truth he brought to every role he accepted had immeasurable impact in paving the way to the advancement in civil rights in the last half of the 21st century.” Said Dr. Dorothy I. Height, chair/ president emerita of the National Council of Negro Women


Sidney Poitier in the 1967 Norman Jewison’s film “In the Heat of the Night”

“What you doin’ here, man?

– Policeman.

– You’re a policeman here in Sparta?

– They’ve got a murder they don’t know what to do with. They need a whipping boy.

– You got a roof?

– No. I’ll find a motel.

– (laught) Viola… We got company.

– There was a time… When I could have had you shot.

– All right. Give me another day. Two days. I’m close. I can pull that fat cat down I can bring him right off this hill!

– Oh, boy. Man, you’re just like the rest of us. Ain’t you?

– OK, black boy. We come here to teach you some manners. Why don’t you come and get it, baby? Hit him, man! Get him from the side!

– All right, what’ll you have, Virgil?

– I ain’t serving him!

The Negro and the Constitution

“We cannot have an enlightened democracy with one great group living in ignorance. We cannot have a healthy nation with one-tenth of the people ill-nourished, sick, harboring germs of disease which recognize no color lines—obey no Jim Crow laws. We cannot have a nation orderly and sound with one group so ground down and thwarted that it is almost forced into unsocial attitudes and crime. We cannot be truly Christian people so long as we flout the central teachings of Jesus: brotherly love and the Golden Rule. We cannot come to full prosperity with one great group so ill-delayed that it cannot buy goods. So as we gird ourselves to defend democracy from foreign attack, let us see to it that increasingly at home we give fair play and free opportunity for all people.

Today thirteen million black sons and daughters of our forefathers continue the fight for the translation of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments from writing on the printed page to an actuality. We believe with them that “if freedom is good for any it is good for all,” that we may conquer Southern armies by the sword, but it is another thing to conquer Southern hate, that if the franchise is given to Negroes, they will be vigilant and defend, even with their arms, the ark of federal liberty from treason and destruction by her enemies.”


Martin Luther King Speech, 13 April 1944,  Dublin (Geórgia)


Martin Luther King and Family