Excerpt from ‘A People’s History of the United States’ by Howard Zinn

In those years after the Civil War, a man named Russell Conwell, a graduate of Yale Law school, a minister, and author of best-selling books, gave the same lecture, “Acres of Diamonds,” more than five thousand times to audiences across the country, reaching several million people in all. His message was that anyone could get rich of he tried hard enough, that everywhere, if people looked closely enough, were “acres of diamonds.” A sampling:

I say that you ought to get rich, and it is your duty to get rich… The men who get rich may be the most honest men you find in the community. Let me say here clearly … ninety-eight out of one hundred of the rich men of America are honest. That is why they are rich. That is why they are trusted with money. The is why they carry on great enterprises and find plenty of people to work with them. It is because they are honest men… . I sympathize with the poor, but the number of poor who are to be sympathized with is very small. To sympathize with a man whom God has punished for his sins … is to do wrong… . let us remember there is not a poor person in the United Stated who was not made poor by his own shortcomings. .

Conwell was a founder of Temple University. Rockefeller was a donor colleges all over the country and helped found the University of chicago. Huntington, of the Central Pacific, gave money to two Negro colleges, Hampton Institute and Tuskegee Institute. Carnegie gave money to colleges and to libraries. Johns Hopkins wan founded by a millionaire. Cornelius Vanderbilt, Ezra Cornell, James Duke, and Leland Stanford created universities in their own names.

The rich, giving part of their enormous earnings in this way, became known as philanthropists. These educational institutions did not encourage dissent; they trained the middlemen in America system-the teachers, doctors, lawyers, administrators, engineers, technicians, politicians-those who would be paid to keep the system going, to be loyal buffers against trouble.

Tags: howard zinn

LET AMERICA BE AMERICA AGAIN

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed-
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek-
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean-
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today-O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home-
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay-
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again-
The land that never has been yet-
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME-
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose-
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath-
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain-
All, all the stretch of these great green states-
And make America again!

           -Langston Hughes

THE BATTLE OF THE LANDLORD

Landlord, landlord,
My roof has sprung a leak.
Don’t you ‘member I told you about it
Way last week?

Landlord, landlord,
These steps is broken down.
When you come up yourself
It’s a wonder you don’t fall down.

Ten Bucks you say I owe you?
Ten Bucks you say is due?
Well, that’s Ten Bucks more’n I’l pay you
Till you flx this house up new.

What? You gonna get eviction orders?
You gonna cut off my heat?
You gonna take my furniture and
Throw it in the street?

Um-huh! You talking high and mighty.
Talk on-till you get through.
You ain’t gonn a be able to say a word
If I land my fist on you.

Police! Police!
Come and get this man!
He’s trying to ruin the government
And overturn the land!

Copper’s whistle!
Patrol bell!
Arrest.
Precinct Station.
Iron cell.
Headlines in press:
MAN THREATENS LANDLORD
TENANT HELD NO BAIL
JUDGE GIVES NEGRO 90 DAYS IN COUNTY JAIL!

           -Langston Hughes

MILITANT

Let all who will
Eat quietly the bread of shame.
I cannot,
Without complaining loud and long.
Tasting its bitterness in my throat,
And feeling to my very soul
It’s wrong.
For honest work
You proffer me poor pay,
for honest dreams
Your spit is in my face,
And so my fist is clenched
Today-
To strike your face.

      -Langston Hughes

mittenhistory:

Alma College: Alma, 1932

mittenhistory:

Alma College: Alma, 1932

(Source: dlxs.lib.wayne.edu)

Earlier in the week John Coltrane took me to church. That was more of a traditional western hallelujah type of church. Today Miles Davis is taking me to a different kind of church, a sort of roman bacchanalia/satan worshiping deal.

Miles Davis removes a sticky valve from his trumpet and licks it for lubrication, Isle of Wight Festival, 1970.

conelradstation:

Nigel Tufnel, lead guitar.

conelradstation:

Nigel Tufnel, lead guitar.

(Source: maudit)

Take me to church.

Neil Young, One of These Days (Harvest Moon, 1992)

One of these days I’m gonna sit down
and write a long letter
To all the good friends I’ve known
And I’m gonna try and thank them all
for the good times together.
Though so apart we’ve grown.

And I’m gonna thank that old country fiddler
And all those rough boys who play that rock ‘n’ roll
I never tried to burn any bridges
Though I know I let some good things go.

From down in L.A. all the way to Nashville
From New York City to my Canadian prairie home.
My friends are scattered like leaves from an old maple.
Some are weak. Some are strong.

Tags: neil young

Sunrise on the Jeffries, 9-15-14

Sunrise on the Jeffries, 9-15-14

Tags: detroit

(Source: conspiracyagogo, via imthebat)

"People talk about the 1960s in a nostalgic way, but to me it was terrifying. People were getting assassinated. There was Vietnam. There were race riots. It felt like everything was going to get blown up sky-high. It didn’t feel like flower power. It felt like Armageddon."

— Sam Shepard