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Sunday, October 22, 2017


On Thursday, October 19th, UWF's Race & Reconciliation community group held a discussion on the Harlem Renaissance and contemporary protests regarding the National Football League. Dr. Lusharon Wiley, University of West Florida's Associate Dean of Students for Inclusion Services and Programs, facilitated the panel discussion. Discussants included noted Pensacola poet and activist Quincy "Q" Hull ( and see also, Ms. Margie McKinnon, and Mr. John Satterwhite. The latter two contributed their observations on current protests surrounding the NFL. Mr. Scott Satterwhite, originally scheduled to appear, sent his regrets.

Mr. Hull recommended that anyone wanting more information, please consult the three-page pdf document, "Guidelines for Being Strong White Allies." 

The following two videos opened the presentation: HERE and HERE.

The Harlem Renaissance grew out of the African American experience in the First World War and the white terrorist riots of 1919. The following account is taken from the sixth edition of From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans, by John Hope Franklin and Alfred A. Moss. The book was first published in 1947. The sixth edition was published in 1988.

In World War I, African American men were heavily involved in the war effort in France in two ways and distinguished themselves. One part of their effort was in logistics and engineering. Almost one-third of the American force, more than 50,000 troops, were found in 115 different units. These units included "stevedore regiments, engineer service battalions, labor battalions, butchery companies, and pioneer infantry battalions" (p. 298). In September 1918 alone, they unloaded 767,648 tons of cargo in French ports, "an average of more than 25,000 tons per day."

However, it was in combat operations, as all-black regiments which earned them respect from French and American generals

The 369th U.S. Infantry Regiment, known to history as "The Harlem Hellfighters," was originally the New York National Guard Regiment. The nickname apparently came from their enemy, the Germans, who called the unit "Hell Fighters." The unit's bravery, determination, and combat effectiveness is in its record of being "almost continuously in action against the Germans.... It was the first unit of Allied armies to reach the Rhine. The regiment never lost a man through capture, and it never gave up a trench of a foot of ground. It saw the first and longest service of any American regiment as part of a foreign army, having been in the trenches for 191 days" (p. 299). "The Harlem Hellfighters" as a regiment won the Croix de Guerre [Cross of War], a medal the French created in April 1915 for foreign fighters. In addition, "171 individual officers and enlisted men were cited for the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honor of exceptional gallantry in action." (p. 299)

The 370th U.S. Infantry Regiment, the former Eighth Illinois Infantry Regiment, had 68 men receive "various grades of the Croix de Guerre, 21 receive the Distinguished Service Cross, and 1 receive the Distinguished Service Medal. (p. 299)

The 371st U.S. Infantry Regiment, was attached to the famous "Red Hand," the 157th French Division under the command of General Goybet. Of the men in this unit, "three officers won the French Legion of Honor, while thirty-four officers and eighty-nine enlisted men won the Croix de Guerre. Fourteen officers and twelve enlisted men won the Distinguished Service Cross. (p. 299)

The 372nd U.S. Infantry Regiment, also attached to the French "Red Hand" division, had added to its regimental colors the "Croix de Guerre and palm." (p. 300)

The U.S. 92nd Infantry Division had "forty-three enlisted men and fourteen Negro officers...cited for bravery in action and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. (p. 301)

General Goybet, commander of the French "Red Hand" division, in praising the bravery and the loss of life and limb of the Black troops stated, "'Never will the 157th Division forget the indomitable dash, the heroic rush of the American regiments (Negro).... These crack regiments overcame every obstacle with a most complete contempt for danger.'" And, General Pershing, commander of the overall American Expeditionary Force stated, "'I want you officers and soldiers of the 92nd Division to know that the 92nd Division stands second to none in the record you have made since your arrival in France. I am proud of the part you have played in the great conflict which ended on the 11th of November.'" (p. 302).

The bravery and sacrifice in blood was not, or perhaps because of, sufficient to stop white Americans in France from trying to pollute France with their racism. Franklin and Moss noted that "American whites told the French that Negroes could not be treated with common civility, that they were rapists, and that Americans were compelled to lynch and burn Negroes in order to keep them in their place." They circulated among the French troops a document, "Secret Information Concerning Black Troops," calling for "the complete separation of blacks and whites, lest blacks assault and rape white women." The French ignored the white Americans' counsel. (p. 303)

Nevertheless, a widespread rumor arose of that "Negro soldiers were attacking and criminally assaulting French women in large numbers." The commanding general of the 92nd Division, nicknamed the "Buffalo Soldiers" and whose motto was "Deeds, Not Words," claimed that his soldiers had committed at least 26 rapes. A subsequent investigation found that of the 12,000+ men in the division, there had been 7 reported cases, 2 men had been found guilty, and 1 of the convictions had been overturned. In fact, the cases had been isolated to one small detachment of a battalion in a single regiment. (p. 303).

Upon returning home from trench warfare and being horribly gassed, Black Americans were subjected to a new terror.  The summer of 1919 is called the "Red Summer." From June to December there about 25 race riots throughout the country. Riots, which were whites attacking Blacks, took place in Longview, Texas; Washington, D.C.; Chicago, Illinois; Knoxville, TN; Omaha, Nebraska; Elaine, Arkansas; and, Tulsa, Oklahoma in June 1921. In what is known locally as a "race war," 9 whites and 21 Blacks were killed, and several hundred were wounded. In all, "more than $1 million worth of property had been destroyed or damaged." (pp. 315-6).

What is noteworthy about the riots, was "the Negroes' willingness to fight and to die in their own defense injected a new factor into America's most perplexing social problem. It was no longer a case of one race intimidating another into submission. Now it was war in the full sense of the word, and Negroes were as determined to win it as they had been in Europe." (p. 316)

While white Americans wanted to blame foreign influences on Black Americans, notably the idea of equality they acquired while fighting in France and the influence of Bolshevism, Franklin and Moss reported that "Blacks, however, ridiculed this view.... In October 1919 the Pittsburgh Courier declared, "'As long as the Negro submits to lynchings, burnings, and oppressions--and says nothing he is a loyal American citizen. But when he decides that lynching and burnings shall cease even at the cost of bloodshed in America, then he is a Bolshevist.'"

Those are just some of the larger social forces that not only resulted in sustained protest and resistance by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, but to rising voices from Harlem, in what is known as the Harlem Renaissance (or the Black Renaissance or the New Negro Movement), and which spread throughout the country. Writers, Black and white, began investigating a host of problems in America dealing with "housing, crime, social planning, and disarmament...[and] the American race problem." Not all Black writers in this period "were conscious crusaders for a better world," and some had a more detached stance that nevertheless contributed to this intellectual ferment. The Harlem Renaissance included poets, novelists, playwrights and thespians, songwriters and musicians, comedians, painters and muralists, and sculptors.

While the works these public intellectuals produced are too numerous to list, Franklin and Moss observed of this movement, "The Afro-American participant in the Harlem Renaissance inherited a legacy of expression from those of an earlier period and, in using it, transformed it into a powerful, relevant statement that would greatly influence succeeding generations." (p. 338)

Below are videos of the event.

Dr. Lusharon WILEY, Introduction

Mr. Quincy "Q" HULL, poem

Dr. Lusharon WILEY, Closing Statement

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


On October 16, 2017, the Pensacola chapter of the League of Women's Voters education committee headed by medical doctor Paula Montgomery hosted its 8th event in what began as the School-to-Prison Pipeline community symposia. The symposia have since been renamed the Pipeline-to-Prison. The bottomline is that more than 100 years ago, in Chicago, we began the separation of juveniles from the adult criminal justice system because we believed there was something fundamentally different about children. We now know that children's brains do not develop fully until after the age of 21. Teenagers have little impulse control and poor means-ends thinking. And yet, in the 1990s we threw caution to the wind, labelled young people "super predators" and threw the legal code at them in order to "get tough" on crime. Both conservatives and liberals understand that we have to reverse course.

The symposia featured the Public Broadcasting System's documentary, Stickup Kid, a case study of Alonza Thomas's interaction with the California criminal justice system from the age of 16, when he was sent to an adult prison for 13 years, and the aftermath of incarceration can be viewed HERE.


A panel of experts discussed various elements of the Stickup Kid documentary and issues relevant to Escambia County. The panel of experts consisted of:

  • Dr. James Arruda, professor of psychology and associate dean for the College of Health. He teaches courses at the University of West Florida on cognitive neuroscience, biological psychology, sensation and perception, research methods, and behavioral statistics. Dr. Arruda is also on the editorial board of the Journal of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. His research focus is on brain-behavior relationships.

  • Ms. Kelly Merritt Richards has 32 years of legal experience, 28 years of which were serving the residents of the First Judicial Circuit that includes Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton counties. She currently works with defense teams on death penalty cases and preparing juvenile life resentencing cases.

  • Mr. Frederick Gant is the principal lawyer in his Pensacola law firm. He received his law degree in 1984 from Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C. Mr. Gant is also quite active in the local community. He is a founding member of both the 100 Black Men of Pensacola and the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity in Pensacola.  He is a member of the Pensacola branch of the NAACP and the African American Chamber of Commerce. He has also held leadership positions in the Pensacola Area Chamber of Commerce and Howard University's Board of Trustees.

  • Judge Terry David Terrell (retired) received his law degree from Florida State University in 1976. For 13 years he was the Chief Assistant Public Defender in the First Judicial Circuit. A certified criminal trial attorney, between 1979 and 1985 he represented all individuals charged with first degree murder. Most notably, he represented serial killer Ted Bundy when he was arrested in Pensacola. In March 1992, he was appointed to the bench by then Governor Lawton Chiles and subsequently won four re-election bids before retiring in December 2015. The Florida Supreme Court justices have appointed him to five entities intended to improve court procedures.

  • Mr. Andrew Warren was elected State Attorney for Florida's Thirteenth Judicial Circuit serving Hillsborough County in November 2016. He is a former federal prosecutor having served in Tampa Bay, Florida, and Washington, D.C. In 2013, he received the Attorney General Award for Trial Litigation. Mr. Warren specialized in prosecuting complex white collar crime. A native of Gainesville, Florida, Mr. Warren earned his law degree from Columbia University Law School.

  • Ms. Maya Rose Goldman, is the Southern Poverty Law Center's Outreach Paralegal operating out of the Tallahassee office. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago. Her work at the SPLC is focused on juvenile justice and criminal justice reforms, mostly focusing on public policy reforms. Before joining the SPLC, she worked for the U.S. branch of  Human Rights Watch where her specialty was human rights abuses in the fields of criminal justice, sexual violence, and immigration.


All attendees received an information packet that included two analyses produced by the James Madison Institute (JMI), a free market think tank located in Tallahassee, Florida. While committed to free market and small government principles--for example, it supports the Trump administration's decision to scrap the Clean Power Plan--it is also concerned about criminal justice reform. Conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, having supported "tough on crime" legislation in the past, are now reconsidering whether mass incarceration of non-violent criminals is wise and just.

In the Spring of 2015, the JMI published a paper in its journal on "No Place for a Child: Children in the Adult Criminal Justice System." Deborah Brodsky argued that "Prosecuting children as adults has failed as an effective public policy. Instead of reducing crime, prosecuting a child as an adult produces crime by making youth more likely to commit crimes in the future." She noted that children, those aged 14 years and above, who were transferred from the juvenile to the adult criminal justice system, made youth offenders more violent, more likely to be rearrested, and, those who did not return to prison, had their chances for a successful life severely reduced due to "lifetime barriers to employment, education, housing, and even driving privileges." Not mentioned, is that a child convicted of a felony loses their voting privileges.

Brodsky marshalled data showing that the "majority of the children transferred to adult court were charged with non-violent offenses. Between 2008 and 2013, burglary accounted for
the single largest number of cases of youth transferred to adult court, making up almost a third of all cases. Property felonies in general made up almost 40 percent of all cases transferred." Moreover, almost 40% of the youths charged in adult courts were considered "low" or "moderate" risks to reoffend. And, youth in Florida were subject to the vagaries of where they lived when charged. No two judicial circuits had the same criteria and practices.

In February 2016, the James Madison Institute issued a Policy Brief, "No Place for A Child: Direct File of Juveniles Comes at a High Cost" by Deborrah Brodsky and Sal Nuzzo. They argued that keeping children in the Department of Juvenile Justice system versus the Florida Department of Corrections through "direct file" reform would save Florida taxpayers nearly $13 million over the next ten years. Florida's "direct file" system--a law that allows a State Attorney to file adult criminal charges against a youth 14 or older without any oversight or intervention by a judge--is based on the myths that the children are "super predators" or otherwise violent criminals committing "heinous" crimes and that these youth criminals are being sent to adult prisons.

Brodsky and Nuzzo produced data showing that "more than 70 percent of children convicted in adult court are sentenced to probation" primarily for committing "non-violent felony offenses, primarily property and drug crimes, or misdemeanors." And, they noted that "many children prosecuted as adults eventually go to prison because the adult system sets children up to fail, not because they were originally more likely to offend."

According to Brodsky and Nuzzo, "Florida currently has the highest number of adult transfers reported of any state" in the country. Since 2009, over 12,000 children were tried as adults in Florida, 98% the result of "direct filing" by the State Attorney.

The Southern Poverty Law Center also provided a fact sheet focusing on Florida and Escambia County (pdf not available). The SPLC noted that since "2008, more than 13,000 children--some as young as 8 years old--have been prosecuted as adults in Florida." In 2015-2016, 1,200 children were prosecuted as adults. Almost all these children were sent into the adult criminal system through "direct file" by the State Attorney. According to a 2016 survey, "62% of Floridians believe judges--not prosecutors--should decide whether to prosecute a child as an adult."

In Escambia County, according to 2015-2016 data presented by the SPLC, of the state's 1,236 children transferred to adult court, 86 were done in Escambia County. Only 2 counties had more children tried as adults--Hillsborough with 129 and Dade with 109--though they have much larger populations. Escambia County's 13.4 school arrests per 1,000 students is more than twice the Florida average of 5.6, and around 12 times higher than Miami-Dade's rate of 1.71 per 1,000 students.

In Escambia County there is also a racial imbalance in school children arrests. Just under 32% of the students aged 10 to 17 are Black, but they account for 68% of the children arrested and 76% of the children direct filed to the adult court. The SPLC pointed out that of "the 251 school-related arrests in Escambia County School District 68% of arrests were for misdemeanor offenses. While the school system's population is only 35% black, 77% of students arrested that year were black."


The following videos are in order of presentation. The only videos not presented are the biographical introductions by Pensacola News Journal's executive editor Lisa Nellessen-Lara who also moderated the Q&A session.