Editorial

Modern-day Harriets of the Black Lives Matter Movement 

Cece Jones-Davis (left) and Antoinette Jones (right) at All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma — Photos by BWSTimes Staff


Published 05/26/2020 | Reading Time 3 min 20 sec 

By Nehemiah D. Frank, founding publisher and editor in chief 

Antiquity bears witness to the countless Black women who were the military commanders of African peoples’ liberation movements.

Before there was a Fannie Lou Hamer, an Assata Shakur, an Angela Davis or an Opal Tometi, there was Amanishakheto, the Warrior Queen of Nubia. Queen Amanishaketo organized the first military campaign against White supremacy. It was her leadership that defeated Emperor Augustus’ Roman army when they tried to colonize Nubia. 

Then there was Queen Nzinga of the Angola region in west-central Africa. Queen Nzinga kept the European slave trade at bay, protecting her people from bondage for 40 years. 

Holberton

And nearly lost to the winds of the West Indies that carried millions of Black bodies to the diaspora, Breffu, a Black woman in St Jan — a small island claimed by the Danish Empire — led one of the largest enslaved uprisings in the western hemisphere.

These Black feminine stories have been buried from little Black girls in classrooms across the nation. Perhaps, the descendants of the colonizers who crafted education policy and educational curriculum felt the message would be too empowering. Maybe they weren’t thoroughly educated on Black World History. Whatever the cause of their shortsightedness, we know that White supremacy was and still is afraid that if Black girls possess the same magic their ancestors did, they would no longer bear the power to be controlled. 

But the American soil and the salty waters of the Atlantic Ocean cry out. The shrieks and wails of Black feminine spirits have vibrated on sound waves from the middle passage long enough for Black women living today to harken their cries, reminding them that justice has yet to be served.

Today’s ebony women have heard and now echo the calls of their ancestors’ continuous fight for Black liberation in the west. 

You may call this new era, The Second Wave of a Black Feminist Movement, one that includes their brothers: where Black men, unlike their White brotheran, are unafraid to step toward the sidelines and into more supportive roles. Their nature is always to protect Black women, as the Queens strategically plan the military campaign that leads to a more just future for African people in the diaspora.   

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, Dr. Tiffany Crutcher, founder of the Terence Crutcher Foundation and co-founder of Demanding A JusTulsa, has been dubbed the Harriet of her community. Her tenacious will to collect justice for her twin brother, Terence Crutcher — whom she lost in 2016 to police violence — has placed numerous dents into the cultural consciousness that governs corrupt policing. Dr. Crutcher has been the driving force that has galvanized thousands to become more civically engaged in her city, garnering support from civil rights icon Attorney Bryan Stevenson and celebrity music mogul Jay-Z. 

Dr. Tiffany Crutcher (center stage) addressing the Tulsa Community for the annual Juneteenth Celebration on Greenwood Ave in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, dubbed the Black Wall Street of America on Friday, June 19, 2020. 


Yet, there are others; modern-day Harriets who unapologetically place their careers and even their lives on the line so that someday Black children, like White children, will experience freedom in its complete form.

In Atlanta, Georgia, The People’s Uprising — a community-based organization, held a march for Breonna Taylor led entirely by Black women. 

With horn in hand, a millennial queen named Sham used her dynamic and charismatic voice to lead hundreds through Atlanta’s downtown streets. By her side, another ebony accomplice, Queen Qui, a community organizer, who walked miles with little Cassadde in her arms, shouting, “Justice for Breonna Taylor.” And in the sunsetting reflection of the Georgia capital’s golden rotunda, delivered a powerful testimony of the struggles that Black women face, even within the politically-controlled Black American City of Atlanta. 

 

In America’s heartland, Antoinette Jones and Cece Jones-Davis are two sisters — unrelated by blood — who are brought together through the miscarriage of justice that stole Antoinette’s brother, Julius Jones, away to a lifetime of captivity with the death penalty hovering over his head. Their collective efforts have brought nationwide attention to Julius’ case. Academy, Emmy, and Tony Award-winning actress Viola Davis produced and released a powerful documentary on Julius’ story: The Last Defense. They’ve also managed to garner support from numerous NBA and NFL players and pop-cultural icon Kim Kardashian West. 

But unfortunately, there are too many miscarriages of justice the media never catches wind of. Jamarion Robinson’s mother, Monteria Robinson, is still advocating for justice for her son. In the summer of 2016, Jamarion — who had been suffering from mental health issues — received 76 bullets from law enforcement officers. A total of 90 shots were fired at her son. His upper body showed burns consistent with a flash-bang grenade. Prior to his murder, Jamarion was a biology student and athlete at Clark Atlanta, then Tuskegee. 

Monteria Robinson advocates for justice for her son Jamarion Robinson on the steps of the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta, Georgia on Friday, September 25, 2020. 


Still, there are countless modern-day Harriets whose stories we may never hear. 

Like the Dora Melija warrior women of Wakanda, inspired by the true story of the fighting women in the Dahomey Empire, Black women are and have been the complete shit since they birthed humankind. And humankind owes its existence to the resiliency that Black women carry within their DNA. 

The world owes Black women everything.


Publisher’s Note: To see more photos from The People’s Uprising march in Atlanta, visit our Instagram page.


Twitter: @nehemiah_frank 

Instagram: nehemiahfrank 

Email: nehemiah@bwstimes.com 

Nehemiah D. Frank is the founding publisher and editor-in-chief of The Black Wall Street Times. He is a graduate of Harold Washington College and Oklahoma State University. His work is featured in TIME Magazine, Education Post, Tulsa People, Citizens Ed, Tulsa World, etc. He is featured in The New York Times, NBC NEWS (print edition), Los Angeles Times, The 74, etc. Frank was also featured in the 2019 documentary “American Heretics,” on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, TEDx Talk, The Great Oklahoma Swindle, etc. Frank is a former school teacher and assistant principal and now spends his time advocating for parents and students in BIPOC communities. He is a founding delegate for the National Parents Union and serves on the Reimagining School Safety and Membership Committees. 


 

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