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From The Final Call Newspaper


    SELMA and the real Dr. King

    By Askia Muhammad -Senior Editor- | Last updated: Jan 13, 2015 - 6:17:36 PM

    Martin Luther King leads march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, March 1965

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    WASHINGTON ( - The movie Selma is, and will likely remain, one of the most talked about films of 2015.

    It earned four Golden Globe nominations, for: Best Picture; Best Actor, David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Best Director, Ava DuVernay; and won Best Original Song, “Glory” by John Legend and Common. And it is certain to be a contender for multiple Academy Awards as well.       

    Selma is an exceptionally well crafted depiction of the last successful campaign in the career of the most charismatic and possibly most misunderstood leader of the 20th Century Civil Rights Movement. It takes its greatness from portraying the tension caused by blood in the streets of Alabama in the mid-1960s brought on by violent, White-racist, legal and extra-legal resistance to the legitimate demands for the right to vote by Blacks in the South, and from the political push and pull generated from the teeming grassroots represented by Dr. King, all the way to the desk of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

    The movie tells the story of three months in Selma, Ala., in early 1965 when Dr. King was mobilizing for the fight for voting rights. The bloody, one-sided “beat-downs” of peaceful, unarmed, non-violent protestors by vicious police, some on horseback, some with dogs, with tear gas, with billy clubs and other weapons, provokes a painful reaction to the scenes of the injustice and reminds moviegoers of the public moral outrage in 1965 which became massive public support for the passage of the Voting Rights Act by Congress later that year.

    And while a great deal of “artistic license” is taken with the presentation of, or the exclusion of important Black figures in the voting rights struggle—Fannie Lou Hamer, Stokely Carmichael, Ella Baker, Floyd McKissick, among others—it is President Johnson’s screen role in the infamous Selma marches which has garnered the loudest rebuke.

    This March 21, 1965 file photo shows civil rights marchers crossing the Alabama river on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. to the State Capitol of Montgomery. Photos: AP/Wide World photos
    Historians and former Johnson administration officials have insisted that the film is flat-out wrong in the way Mr. Johnson is shown, as an opponent of the Selma voting rights marches, when in fact the march was his idea, his former aides insist.

    In the film, one dramatic climax occurs when Dr. King scolds the reluctant and tough-talking president, about the immediate need for federal voting rights legislation, all the while with a portrait of George Washington looking on in the background.

    “Mr. President, in the South, there have been thousands of racially motivated murders,” Dr. King says, imploring President Johnson to put his weight behind a voting rights law. “We need your help!” But the President replies: “Dr. King, this thing’s just going to have to wait.”

    “In real life, that December 1964 meeting happened—but not that way, according to one who was there,” Richard Prince reports in his online column “Journal-Isms.”

    “‘It was not very tense at all. We were very much welcomed by President Johnson,’ recalled former Atlanta mayor and U.N. ambassador Andrew Young, who attended the session as a young lieutenant to King. ‘He and Martin never had that kind of confrontation.’”

    Others, including Clifford Alexander, a Black man and former deputy special counsel to the President, and later Secretary of the Army in the Jimmy Carter administration, as well as Joseph Califano, Mr. Johnson’s top assistant for domestic affairs from 1965-1969, and scholars at the Johnson Presidential Library cite transcripts and audio recordings in which Mr. Johnson appears to be the author of the idea of the Selma marches, encouraging them as a way to generate pressure on Congress to enact voting rights for disenfranchised Blacks.
    State troopers swing billy clubs to break up a civil rights voting march in Selma, Ala., March 7, 1965.

    While this film concentrates on early 1965 and Selma, one of the shocking early scenes shows the 1963 bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church—less than three weeks after Dr. King’s triumphal March on Washington for Jobs and Justice—in which teenagers Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley were blown to bits by a Ku Klux Klan bomb.

    The film also shows Dr. King receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, but it omits much about the Black community which was the backdrop for Dr. King’s success, and more importantly the bolder, more militant Martin Luther King Jr.—The Real King, so to speak—who emerged during the three years after the Selma victory.

    “There is no movement without the Black church. There is no movement without historically Black institutions. Not just colleges, high schools,” Dr. Greg Carr, chair of the African American Studies Department, at Howard University told The Final Call. “(The Revs. James) Bevel and (Fred) Shuttlesworth came back from Birmingham and said, ‘I’ve been going to the high schools talking to these kids. They’re ready to move.’ That’s when the Children’s March emerged.” Organizers were meeting at 16th Street Baptist Church, he pointed out, which is “Why they bomb(ed) 16th Street…because it was an institution.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., right, pictured in his first meeting with Elijah Muhammad, left, head of the Nation of Islam Feb. 24, 1966, in Chicago, IL. Dr. King said Elijah Muhammad agreed a movement is needed against slum conditions.

    Those details and others depicting important local leaders were conveniently scrubbed from the film. “The politics of the film, the intent of the politics of the film were clear in the erasure of Stokely Carmichael, total erasure. The diminished capacity that is the role of Diane Nash and other women, the anti-SNCC perspective was just so clear,” Dr. Jared Ball, Associate Professor of Communications at Morgan State University told The Final Call. “John Lewis is a hero (in the movie), not just because of what he did but because he walked away from SNCC.”

    The film, very skillfully diminishes the role of young Black militants who increasingly began to influence Dr. King in and after the events at Selma, in favor of the need for the movement to capitalize on a sense of White conscience and guilt.

    But the reality is that conditions on the ground were changing fast in 1965. The Voting Rights Act was signed into law by LBJ in Washington—with Dr. King at his side—on Aug. 6, 1965. One week later, a continent away, the Watts Riot (rebellion) broke out on Aug. 13, protesting police murders and brutality toward Black people, like the 2014 demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y.

    “That LBJ, is made to look almost heroic (in the movie) in juxtaposition to George Wallace, and could get—in the theater where I saw it—a round of applause, tells you where the film was asking us to go. The emphasis on the inter-racial aspect of the movement was a clear message of, ‘let’s walk away from Black collective national activity, let’s make a point about today,’” said Dr. Ball.

    “If you look at the critique that is all over the place of Whites in these anti-Ferguson, anti-police brutality rallies, the critique is still there. ‘Why are you in these rallies White folks? And what is your intent in marching with us? And how is your presence becoming theater for you, as opposed to a movement for us?’

    “All of those questions—like there is a response in Selma (the movie) to all of that—by saying ‘They’re (Whites are) supposed to be here. There’s a benefit to their inclusion,’ and all of the arguments or debates against that have to be diminished, ridiculed, omitted entirely.’”
    “The problem is, that I did like it,” Dr. Ball said. “I was moved by some of it. I did think it was well made, and some of the acting performances are good, which makes, the negatives have much more of an impact. That’s the problem that we deal with. If it was all whack, it would be easy to critique and dismiss.”
    In this Jan. 18, 1964 fi le photo, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, right, talks with civil rights leaders in his White House offi ce in Washington, D.C. The Black leaders, from left, are, Roy Wilkins, executive secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); James Farmer, national director of the Committee on Racial Equality; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; and Whitney Young, executive director of the Urban League. Photos: AP/Wide World photos

    The “real” Dr. King emerges

    In the months after the Voting Rights Act, Dr. King underwent a radical transformation. The influence of the Nation of Islam was clear. “At one time the Whites in the United States called him a racialist, an extremist, and a Communist,” Nation of Islam National Spokesman Minister Malcolm X said of the mainstream Civil Rights leaders he nicknamed “The Big Six.” “Then the Black Muslims came along and the Whites thanked the Lord for Martin Luther King.”
    Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Photo: AP/Wide World photos

    The strategy, of which Dr. King and the Civil Rights leadership was so proud, had produced a “victory with no victory,” Minister Malcolm X declared of the successful tactic which produced no tangible results. In the film “Selma,” Dr. King even laments in a jailhouse scene that he may have been fighting to integrate lunch counters at which most Blacks could not even afford to eat.

    The Whites, Minister Malcolm X continued, did not integrate the Civil Rights Movement, they infiltrated it.

    On Feb. 23, 1966 Dr. King visited the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, at his home in Chicago, and may have been further radicalized, but he quickly explained to his anxious White benefactors and to the public, that he was not forging an “alliance” with the Nation of Islam. In 1966 Dr. King’s Chicago organizing campaign was violently rebuffed by racist, White citizen attacks. He left Chicago, unable to claim a victory.

    April 4, 1967 the day when Dr. King explained why he was opposed to the war in Vietnam arrived. “He comes out in this speech and he calls America, his country, ‘the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.’ That’s a strong indictment. The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” radio and television interviewer Tavis Smiley told Pacifica Radio’s Mitch Jesserich in an interview before the release of Selma.
    Police attack marchers as they crossed Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge on “Bloody Sunday”. Photos: MGN Online
    “He goes on in that speech to talk about what he calls the ‘Triple threat of racism, poverty, and militarism.

    Racism, poverty, and militarism.’ If you think you know Dr. King and you don’t know of the story of the darkest and most difficult part of his journey—which for him just happened to be the last year, April 4, ‘67 to April 4, ‘68—if you don’t know that story, then you don’t know Dr. King yet.”

    Mr. Smiley is the author, along with David Ritz, of “Death of a King: the Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year”. During that troubled time, up until his assassination, Dr. King had become so unpopular that another author, Clayborne Carson said many of the people who went to his funeral, would not have been seen with him on the day before he died.

    “Clayborne Carson is absolutely right,” Mr. Smiley said. “In the last year of his life, everybody and everything turned against Dr. King.

    “After he gives his speech, the media turns against him. What The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Time magazine had to say about him, you would be embarrassed. So the media turns on him. Then the White House turns on him.” While President Johnson and Dr. King worked together for the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act—perhaps the two most seminal pieces of legislation passed in the entire 20th Century—now King is opposed to LBJ on this war in Vietnam, according to Mr. Smiley.

    “The NAACP and Roy Wilkins turns on Dr. King. Whitney Young and the Urban League publicly turn on Dr. King. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., powerful Congressman, turns on Dr. King, publicly. Ralph Bunche, the only other Black Nobel Peace Prize winner, turns on Dr. King publicly. I can’t even say on the radio—it’s in the text—but I can’t even quote what Thurgood Marshall—The Thurgood Marshall—had to say about Dr. King. It was vicious and ugly.
    Still from the movie “Selma”.
    “And then the Black Press got in on it. It wasn’t just the mainstream, liberal, White press, the Black press started to turn on Dr. King. It’s a story most of us don’t know because we’d rather freeze-frame King at the Lincoln Memorial at the March on Washington.

    “That dream that he talked about in ’63, by the time he gets to ’67, where this book picks up, the last year of his life, he is saying publicly that that dream has become a nightmare. He says to Harry Belafonte and a few others at a gathering one night, ‘…that for all that we have done for integration, I fear that we have integrated into a burning house.’ These are Martin’s words.

    “The one that shocks most people: Martin was murdered on a Thursday night in Memphis. If he had made it back to Atlanta that Sunday to Ebenezer, his church where he was preaching every Sunday, his sermon would have been a shock,” continued Mr. Smiley.

    On April 4, 1968, one year after his anti-Vietnam War speech, “One of the last calls he made from the Lorraine Motel was back to his church, to his secretary, to his father, to let them know what he was going to preach on Sunday. Had he made it back to Atlanta, his Sunday morning sermon was going to be entitled: ‘Why America May Go to Hell.’

    “He didn’t say we were going to hell, but why America may go to hell. Now you tell folks that the ‘I Have A Dream’ man was going to preach a sermon called ‘Why America May Go To Hell,’ they don’t get that. King was always a believer that America could be greater. That’s what his life’s work was all about. But by the time he gets to ’67, ’68, he’s questioning whether or not America really has the will to address these issues that are really just threatening to the lives of too many fellow citizens,” said Mr. Smiley.

    Ironically, the sentiment about the Vietnam War which earned Dr. King such unforgiving scorn is not unlike a prediction nearly 200 years earlier by Thomas Jefferson, one of this country’s Founding Fathers. “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever,” Mr. Jefferson said.

    In order to get an idea of whom “The Real” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is Dr. Ball has a recommended reading list after having seen Selma. He recommends that people study the history recounted in the film, read Dr. King’s last book “Where Do We Go From Here? Chaos Or Community”, read James Forman’s book “The Making of Black Revolutionaries,” and read everything by or about Kwame Ture/Stokely Carmichael.
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From The Final Call Newspaper

    And a little child shall lead them

    By News | Last updated: Dec 17, 2014 - 11:39:36 AM

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    Demonstrators march on Pennsylvania Avenue toward Capitol Hill in Washington,Dec. 13, during the Justicefor All rally. More than 10,000 protesters converged on Washington in an effort to bring attention to the deaths of unarmed Black men at the hands of police. Civil rights organizations held a march to the Capitol with the families of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, two unarmed Black men who died in incidents with White police officers. Photo: AP/Wide World photos

    The recent protests in Washington, D.C., spearheaded by the Rev. Al Sharpton and his National Action Network, brought again to the surface the tension between mainstream civil rights leaders and Black youth determined to press forward for justice.
    A deep desire and demand for change was ignited by young
     Black women and men standing up against the armed, militaristic
    legions of police equipped with armaments donated
    by the Defense Dept. in Ferguson. Photos: Cartan X Mosely

    Twitter offered a running narrative of the views and analysis of young Black people who have given the Rev. Sharpton and traditional leaders a bigger and more vibrant platform than they have likely had for at least 10 years. Look back at the annual commemorations of the 1963 March on Washington and similar marches and see the small crowds, despite big bucks from labor and other groups, that were not very spirited. In many instances the gatherings may have been well-intentioned but lacked a passion and a legitimate outrage over the targeting, mistreatment and murder of Black people—women, children and men.
    Many times those marches seemed stuck in a time warp and were more like class reunions for those who could remember their heyday and the protests of the civil rights movement. The gatherings too often seemed spirited and fruitless preaching to the choir. None of those gatherings truly captured national attention—even if mainstream media offered a platform for the leaders to be seen. These protests seemed to grow more and more symbolic and more and more disconnected from the masses of Black people and real struggle.

    A deep desire and demand for change was ignited by young Black women and men standing up against the armed, militaristic legions of police equipped with armaments donated by the Defense Dept. in Ferguson, Mo., following the killing of 18-year-old Mike Brown, an unarmed Black youth, by a White police officer. Fearless young people and their true allies—like activist Anthony Shahid, Nation of Islam member James Muhammad, longtime activist Zaki Baruti and others, alongside the so-called thugs with tattoos, the sister girls with everything from fly weaves to braids, and angry older parents who came out into the streets—faced off against the police. They were tear gassed. They failed to retreat. They were besieged with smoke bombs and rubber bullets. They didn’t flinch. They were beaten. They didn’t quit.

    Their anger, their disruption, their refusal to go quietly into the night touched a raw nerve and inspired others. Thousands around the country and countless others around the world have expressed solidarity with the Black struggle. Even during a conference in Algeria, an official from Mozambique told a member of a Black Press delegation: “What is going on bro? I can’t breathe.” He was reciting the last words of Eric Garner, choked to death by New York police officers on a Staten Island street. Since people had seen the Ferguson model and were already in the streets, the Garner killing added fuel to their fire.

    But it was young Black people who put America’s deep racial hatred and even deeper hypocrisy on front street. They slept on the streets in Ferguson. They protected one another. They formed organizations and the world has responded to their leadership. A post-racial president and a racially deluded country have been forced to admit racism exists alongside deadly police brutality and murderous misconduct. Whites have been forced to look in the mirror and ask themselves, “Are we better than our fathers?”

    Non-profits and social justice groups that needed an infusion of energy and ground troops found a place where their facts, figures and research could have real meaning and use. Calls for justice and equality that had become primarily media events or media driven events were growing into a true mass movement. The traditional leaders should have been proud and embraced the children, sheltered them and uplifted them. Sadly that was largely not the case: Civil rights leaders often showed up in Ferguson and made calls from a playbook that has not been effective. They referred to the struggle of young people but didn’t recognize the young leaders. They didn’t embrace these young giants and warriors as a proud parent should and that was a failure.

    The same failure surfaced again during the Millions March in Washington, D.C., along with declarations that “the movement” didn’t start in Ferguson. That may be historically true, but the moment in Ferguson breathed life, money, focus and power into a moribund and aging movement. It put these leaders and their issues back on front street as the media, the president and the power structure tried to find someone to talk to, to explain and to control.

    But this is not the day of control, this is the days of fighting back and boldly declaring Black lives matter and there will be no business as usual. So the protests that started in Ferguson in August came to Wal-Mart and other unapproved spaces in the Nation’s Capitol in December. Young leaders and those who understand them and support them went off the approved routes and off script Dec. 13 because they are determined that there will not be business as usual. How can there be with a 12-year-old shot to death, his hysterical sister in handcuffs and his distraught mother trying to decipher what has befallen her babies?

    The rejection of young people and failure to fully embrace, respect and uplift them reflects Bible scripture and the elders among the children of Israel. A journey that could have taken 40 days took 40 years and the elders died in the wilderness. The elders did not see the Promised Land. This movement will not be stopped, nor deterred. It is on time and it is a blessing, but the old mindset and the old ways just won’t do in these times. It is a shame that so many who claim leadership cannot see a blessing and fulfillment of desires coming through Black children. This is not the time for blind leadership, nor the time for those who wish to stay with Pharaoh. It is time for our Exodus and our children will help lead it.

From the Final Call newspaper


    Ferguson explodes-- Is America next?

    By Richard B. Muhammad and J.A. Salaam -Final Call Staffers- | Last updated: Nov 25, 2014 - 5:47:36 AM


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    A man takes a picture of a storage facility on fire after the announcement of the grand jury decision Nov. 24, in Ferguson, Mo. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed, Black 18-year-old whose fatal shooting sparked sometimes violent protests. Photos: AP/Wide World photos
    FERGUSON, Mo. ( - Physical fires and fiery passions were ignited here with the decision not to charge officer Darren Wilson in the killing of unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown.

    On the 108th day after the 18-year-old’s shooting, chaos exploded at night as many felt the failure to indict the White officer was another sign of a war on Black youth and an assault on the Black community.

    “It is a too often repeated message that your life is worthless in the context of the power of the state versus the individual. You can be exterminated without impunity. There are no repercussions for the state taking the life of a Black person,” said Dr. Wilmer Leon, a political science professor at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

    “Why now are we seeing these increases around the country? Why now? They don’t want you to feel empowered by the election of a Black president. Don’t think you have arrived. Nothing has changed. That’s all I can figure it to be,” he said.

    Protesters run for shelter as smoke fills the streets after the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson.

    St. Louis county prosecutor Bob McCullough made the night announcement that there would be no charges from the grand jury that was first empaneled Aug. 20, some 11 days after Mike Brown was killed. Mr. McCullough defended the decision to refer the case to the grand jury because of “unfounded but growing concern” that justice would not be done. The Justice Dept. and local officials conducted joint investigations and shared information, he said. Conflicting witness accounts and the physical evidence contributed to the decision not to indict officer Wilson for any one of a range of charges from first degree murder to involuntary manslaughter, said Mr. McCullough. The Justice Dept. said its investigation will continue.

    A group of protesters vandalize a police vehicle in Ferguson, Mo.

    President Obama took to the air minutes after the Nov. 24 televised announcement of the decision. He urged respect for the rule of law and called for using the Brown death to deal with longstanding problems.
    The president said he instructed Attorney General Eric Holder to work to build better relations between police departments and communities, including proper training for fair application of laws, creating community alliances and having police forces reflect the race of communities that they work in. Criminal justice reform is also needed, the president said.

    “We have to recognize this is not just an issue for Ferguson it is an issue for America,” said President Obama.

    Two days before the Ferguson explosion, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam warned Ferguson was ready to blow up. The injustices that Blacks have faced are growing intolerable and Black youth are growing as angry as unarmed Palestinians battling heavily armed Israeli soldiers, the Minister said in a Nov. 22 address at Morgan State University in Baltimore.

    An armed police officer guards the area after a group of protesters vandalize a police cruiser after the announcement of the grand jury decision.

    Leaders who defend the oppressive White power structure cannot lead Black youth or Black people, said Min. Farrakhan.

    “Because the youth don’t want to hear a damn you say,” he continued. “You can’t feel it? When you talk to young people, you can’t feel that you’re missing them? Parents, you can’t feel when you’re talking to your children that this is a new generation—and they don’t want to hear your compromising talk? Did you hear them in Ferguson tell Jesse [Jackson] ‘Get the hell outta here! You ain’t no leader.’ ”

    Rev. Jackson has worked hard but what was a good tactic yesterday is not a good approach today, the Minister said.

    To reach young people you must reject the old ways and reject taking a pacifist position to please White people, he said.

    Police officers and protesters.

    “Tonight in Ferguson everybody is on edge. White folks have never been on edge after they killed a Black man. Tonight they’re on edge; so on edge that our president has come out from behind the curtain to ask young Black people: ‘Cool it. That’s not our way.’ I heard you, Mr. President; and I asked myself a question: What brings you out of the shadows? … I said to myself, ‘Mr. President: Why the hell don’t you go to the wicked police department? Why the hell don’t you stand up and tell them that your killing of Black youth and Brown youth is not going to hold no more,” said Min. Farrakhan.

    The president spoke out because there is fear an eruption in Ferguson could inflame the entire country, he said.

    Tear gas, fires and riot gear

    Police officers fired tear gas, lobbed smoke grenades and fired bean bags at protestors, according to media reports. Armored vehicles rolled down streets and officer clad in riot gear moved to assert control. There were also reports of gunfire and burned out police cars. Some CNN reporters found themselves pelted with trash. Not everyone was involved in the battles with police. Gunshots were fired and people dispersed. Helicopters circulated overhead.

    Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown's mother, is comforted outside the Ferguson police department as St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch conveys the grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of her son, Nov. 24 in Ferguson, Mo.

     Police clashed with protestors in Ferguson, near the police department, on West Florissant Avenue, which is a commercial strip, and other places. Several businesses burned as firefighters fought the blazes. At one point, there were too many fires to be put out. “There was a lot of gunfire for a bit,” said CNN reporter Stephanie Elam. It sounded like a handgun, she added.

    Marc Lamont Hill, reporting for CNN, said there was some over reaction from police that stoked conflicts with police. There was also a presence in one neighborhood, no police presence in the other, he said. It was like you have permission to destroy one neighborhood but not the other, Mr. Hill added. It seems like there is no response until there is a spectacle like this, he said.

    “No justice! No peace!” chanted many of the demonstrators. Protestors also blocked major highways.

    “Protesters should be able to exercise their constitutional right peacefully and not be attacked by the police. Because the youth are ready to fight back and die for what they feel is right,” said Spud, a young activist. Emotions were high and the fear of trouble brewed each day in this suburb and others outside of St. Louis.

    Business owners in Clayton, Mo., where the non-indictment was announced, and in Ferguson, Mo., boarded up property. Fear of property damage and rioting caused a 67 percent increase in gun sales, according to the Associated Press.

    But one Black woman complained of being denied the right to purchase a weapon the night of Nov. 24 though she was eligible for a firearm. Rachel Stewart, 36, told The Final Call that at a mall in Bridgeton, Mo., Blacks were told weapons’ purchases were on hold, but Whites were allowed to go in and buy weapons.

    The Final Call received reports of infighting in the county police department, which led to the suspension of several Black officers because of their views on the Brown shooting. Some Black FBI agents also refused to follow some instructions or take certain assignments, sources told The Final Call.

    “As mothers how do we teach our kids to deal with this? What do we tell our sons?” said Twyla Lee, who lives and works in St. Louis. There should be fear this could spread across the country, she said. Officers are getting away with fatal shootings—from the killing of a 12-year-old with a toy gun in Ohio to an 18-year-old in St. Louis. “So it’s just open season and it’s nothing we can do or say. Our children can be walking down the street and doing nothing and get killed,” said Ms. Lee.

    School is out until Dec. 1 in public school districts in St. Louis and nearby jurisdictions while some private schools are making attendance optional, she said.

    What happened is fulfilment of prophecy and bears witness to what Min. Farrakhan has said of Black people matching the biblical picture of a people lost in a strange land, said activist Anthony Shahid, an advisor to the parents of Michael Brown. He has been at the forefront of protests and demands for justice. The family was given a 15 minute heads up before the decision not to indict was announced and was “profoundly hurt” by the verdict. Lesley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown, came out and spoke to those assembled outside of the Ferguson Police Dept.

    “Our people are sick and tired of being on this plantation. The genie is out of the bottle and St. Louis will never be the same. It has been so racist for so long reminds it me of the Emmett Till case. The people are tired that we are being shot down and nothing is happening,” he said.

    Angry expressions across the U.S.

    Protestors march up Seventh Avenue towards Times Square in New York.

    Demonstrations grew nationwide throughout the late evening into the night as anger grew. Protesters vented frustrations in Time Square in New York City, stopped traffic on Lakeshore Drive in Chicago and in the streets of Oakland, Calif., Seattle and other cities. Hundreds marched in protest toward the White House in Washington, D.C. many with their hand and arms held up. Crowds gathered in Philadelphia, Denver, Colorado and more than 120 vigils and gatherings were planned and executed. According to the Ferguson National Response Network, from Toledo, Ohio, to Bangor, Maine, to Los Angeles and Detroit, people were determined to show their outrage over the grand jury decision and police shootings and police abuses.

    Michael Prysner, of Answer coalition and an Iraq War veteran, went to Leimert Park in Los Angeles for a gathering. “Everyone here has said that the only way to get justice for Mike Brown was to continue to fight back and organize, and build a movement start with and center on this particular case, but challenge institutionalized racism and White supremacy in the criminal justice system all throughout the country,” Mr. Prysner said.

    In Los Angeles, protestors shut down several streets, as well as a portion of the 10 Freeway in South Los Angeles.

    “This is an epidemic in cities all across the country of Black and Brown people being killed with complete impunity and the federal government just standing by while Black people in particular, but people of color, are being murdered by police day after day after day while this government on a national level is doing absolutely nothing about it,” Mr. Prysner said.

    Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, in an e-mailed statement said the grand jury’s decision does not negate an alarming trend of officers using excessive force against people of color, often during routine encounters. Yet in most cases, the officers and police departments are not held accountable.

    Protestors gather in front of the White House in Washington, D.C.

    “The ACLU will continue to fight for racial justice. We must end the prevailing policing paradigm where police departments are more like occupying forces, imposing their will to control communities. This ‘us’ versus ‘them’ policing antagonizes communities by casting a blanket of suspicion over entire neighborhoods, often under the guise of preventing crime,” Mr. Mittman said.

    The Bay Area Mass Incarceration Network and its affiliates assembled at 14th and Broadway in Oakland to demonstrate and demand justice for those killed by cops.

    The network urged people to bring traffic to a halt on major streets, highways, bridges and tunnels. “Wherever we go, we will deliver a message to one and all that THE KILLING OF BLACK YOUTH MUST STOP! People must come together and say this in a loud and united voice. We must mean it, and we must act accordingly immediately when the decision is announced and going forward from there till the murder of our youth by police and racist vigilantes is truly no more,” the group said in a statement.

    Veteran activist Rosa Clemente said many were “lulled to sleep” by a Black president and Black attorney general in Eric Holder. “I am not surprised as someone who has been working on these issues for 20 years, but I’m always disappointed. And always so sad that I have to take my 10-year-old daughter to a rally for justice right now because that’s the world we live in, and she herself can be a victim of police violence at her age,” said Ms. Clemente. “They are killing our kids. From the minute our children are born, they are targets,” Ms. Clemente said.

    Keith Beauchamp, a filmmaker and host of The Injustice Files, said the decision not to indict officer Wilson “hurt him to the core.” It shows a toxic racial climate of violence still exists in America, he said.

    “I can’t say I’m surprised, but I was holding on to hope,” said Mr. Beauchamp. “As we continue to see this take place time and time again, what it is saying to me is that we are still living in a dangerous place in America as a Black male.”

    Mr. Beauchamp’s documentary research into the death of Emmett Till is well known. Now, coming up on the 60 years since Mr. Till’s gruesome death, Ferguson is especially troubling.

    “You are now going to have another generation of kids growing up in this type of atmosphere fearing or hating the police,” said Mr. Beauchamp.

    In Atlanta, Mayor Kasim Reed called for restraint from protesters and law enforcement. “Going forward, I encourage the United States Department of Justice to conduct a complete review of how Michael Brown’s killing has been handled thus far,” he said.

    “We will not allow this to be another Sanford, Florida,” vowed Cornell William Brooks, NAACP president and CEO. “That the officer who shot and killed an unarmed Black man with his hands in the air remains free is appalling. Local officials in Ferguson utterly failed in their duties to conduct an open and transparent investigation.”

    The NAACP has a petition demanding a federal civil rights investigation, he added.

    Attorney General Holder said, “Michael Brown’s death was a tragedy. This incident has sparked a national conversation about the need to ensure confidence between law enforcement and the communities they protect and serve.”

    “The [verdict’s] impact is building more rage and anxiety in Black youth. They are creating an atmosphere that is unfortunate with a system that is helping to perpetuate the disrespect of Black youth. They feel they have no rights that have to be respected,” said Salim Adofo, national vice chair of the National Black United Front, based in Washington, D.C.

    Dr. Conrad Worrill, director of the Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, said the unrest and injustice speaks to the need for Black self-determination.

    “I hope there comes a time when we get it into the masses psyche to do for self. We must protect our communities, we must build our own institutions, and we must raise our children in our own traditions. Right now we’re engaged in what I call ambulance chasing, one case after another, after another. We’re totally in reactive mode to White supremacy. We must come back to the tradition of our elders including the Honorable Elijah Muhammad to do for self, protect ourselves and build for ourselves,” he said.

    As part of an ongoing strategy, the Brown family is calling for a four-day spending boycott. The four days represent the four hours that Mike Brown’s body lay in the street.

    Min. Farrakhan emphatically backed the four-day spending black-out and urged a total holiday spending boycott. Families should gather for a good meal and engage with one another, he said. Don’t spend money you don’t have, Min. Farrakhan continued. “Why should we continue to spend our money when we are deprived of justice? We should absent ourselves,” he said.

    (Nisa Islam Muhammad and Askia Muhammad reported from Washington, D.C., while Starla Muhammad and Ashahed M. Muhammad reported from Chicago and Charlene Muhammad reported from Los Angeles.)