Subversive Historian – 08/25/09

The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters

Back in the day on August 25th, 1925, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was formed in New York. A. Phillip Randolph, a socialist once dubbed as ‘the most dangerous black man in America’ was designated as its leader. The BSCP was extremely significant as a black union dedicated to organizing on twin fronts against the Pullman Company and racism in the U.S. labor movement. Under Randolph’s guidance and the slogan “Fight or be Slaves,” the brotherhood fought for many years to counteract the paternalism of George Pullman’s company while seeking the recognition by the American Federation of Labor of being an international. The latter came first as the BSCP was finally granted the charter from the AFL in 1935. Two years later, Randolph made history when the union signed a contract with the Pullman Company that increased wages and decreased working hours.

It had been the first time a white owner had ever come to official terms with a black union leader.


Update: Lila Downs Cancelation!

Two days before her scheduled appearance at the Grove of Anaheim, Lila Downs has canceled the show! News of the unfortunate occurrence was posted to the singer’s website with the explanation that she had undergone emergency surgery for appendicitis. Thankfully, Downs is said to be resting and recuperating and left her fans with the following message:

Me encuentro un poco hinchada y somnolienta pero fuerte como un aguila despues de que me echaron cuchillo en esta mañana de agosto. A causa de esta operación tuvimos que cancelar una gira importante para nosotros aquí en los Estados Unidos. Ya salí con bien gracias a Dios de esta apendicitis.

I am a little swollen and sleepy but strong and thankful for a successful operation of appendicitis here in New York. Unfortunately for this reason we needed to cancel our concerts this week in the U.S., but soon enough we’ll be out there doin’ our thing.

Word from the Grove is that they are attempting to reschedule the concert date. When that takes place and a new date is announced, tickets purchased for this Wednesday will reportedly be honored. Get well Lila!

Interview with Lila Downs!

For years, Lila Downs has melded her powerful multilingual vocals with musical arrangements that engagingly blend the sounds of our global village. Of mixed heritage herself, the signature syncretism that has come to define her artistic presentation has been most recently evidenced by the release in late June of the appropriately Spanglish titled anthology The Very Best of el Alma de Lila Downs. The Oaxaca-born singer’s commanding range will be echoing through the Grove of Anaheim this Wednesday, but before that, Downs made time to speak with the Weekly about her music.

Read my exchange with Lila Downs here:

Subversive Historian – 08/24/09

The Communist Control Act

Back in the day on August 24th, 1954, the Congress of the United States passed the Communist Control Act into law. President Dwight D. Eisenhower remarked upon signing the bill saying that it was “designed to place into the hands of our law enforcement agencies, better weapons for combating the Community menace.” Though Senator Joseph McCarthy had been disgraced prior to the act’s passage, there still existed an anti-communist hysteria among the political establishment. It was in such a climate that the legislation’s text declared that its purpose was to “outlaw the Communist party” and “prohibit members of Communist organizations from serving in certain representative capacities.”

The language of the Communist Control Act, however, was much more about giving the state the ability to harass and contain members of the party. It also allowed for the deeming of other organizations as infiltrated by Communist agents in order to destabilize them.

Anaheim Funk Jam of the Week!

This is the first post in a new series on – Anaheim Funk Jam of the Week! Yes, you readers need to be given something once a week so you can bump it in your bucket! This inaugural post is from Vaughn Mason and the song is titled “Feel My Love.” You might recall Mason’s big hit, “Bounce Skate Rock Roll,” and if this jam sounds familiar it’s because Frank V of Proper Does sampled it for the tight as shit track “Somethin’ to Bump.”

Elbows up…

Subversive Historian – 08/14/09

{Osceola: before the college football appropriation}

The End of the Second Seminole War

Back in the day on August 14th, 1842, the second Seminole War in Florida came to an official end. Prior to the onset of renewed conflict, President Andrew Jackson, who in the first war led army attacks on Seminole villages burning them down to the ground, saw to it that the Indian Removal Act become law during his administration. When the legislation was passed in 1930, it called for all natives to be moved to lands west of the Mississippi River. Clearly affected by this, the Seminoles of Florida did not want to leave their land and resisted instead. The Second Seminole War ensued as surprise attacks on white settlements and U.S. troops were coordinated and led by the native warrior Osceola. General Winfred Scott led a surge of U.S. troops into Florida in response as war raged on. The Seminoles were dealt a devastating blow when Osceola was captured and died in prison in 1838.

Four years later the war came to an end with many Seminoles forcibly moved west from their land to Oklahoma. That’s why when people ask me if I have a $20 dollar bill on me, I say “Oh, you mean an Indian Killer?”

SanTana = Lazarus?

There’s a nice little debate going on in the always great OC Weekly Navel Gazing blog about an article in the Orange Coast Magazine. Written by journalist Agustin Gurza, the piece’s title “The Ressurection of Santa Ana,” has been enough to ruffle a few feathers.  The article then goes on to basically profile the city’s downtown Artist Village after a decade in existence. Do you agree with Gurza’s portrayal? Or is it way off point? Join in on the debate…