When the police snatched me out of my imaginary football stadium, handcuffed me for no valid reason and then rushed me to the D.C. police juvenile division substation on Rhode Island Avenue, their actions removed all doubt from my mind that I would always be at risk of having close encounters with the police. All I would have to do is sprint down the street. That alone makes black boys and men targets of suspicion. Sometimes we do not even have to be running. Just walking down the street is enough to get stopped, frisked and harassed.

As I grew older, I realized that the conflicted relationship between lawmen and black men is often throttled by preconditioned distrust and fear and thus their relationship is bound to repeatedly rupture, often without a moment’s notice. This land mined relationship is a perfect setup for instant conflict.

If there’s two fearful and nervous energies touching each other, the outcome can only be bad.

— The Dog Whisperer, Discovery Channel

Each Battle, a Lesson

The encounters I had with cops earlier in my life morphed into serious conflicts after I became an adult. As a full-grown man, I have been falsely arrested and abused by cops in multiple and myriad ways. They’ve beaten and bruised me, thrown me into jail on false charges and lied about me in open court.

And I’m one of the good guys! I’ve done everything this American society has asked of me: I am educated and have worked all of my life. I am a homeowner and I highly respect the law. I show each cop I encounter the same level of respect that he or she shows me.

I’ve known some great cops. I’ve met some lowly ones as well. I have learned the ways of both. With what I have learned about cops, I could teach a course called Black Men and the Average Cop 101. I would teach the course in five quick lessons:

Lesson 1. Direct Eye Contact Makes the Average Cop Antsy: There is a very thin line between a cop acting like a good cop and a cop acting badly. The line can be as hairline thin as a momentary locking of eyes. If you are a black man and you lock eyes with an insecure or arrogant cop, you might make him feel uncomfortable. Some cops need to see black men show them humility and fear. It relaxes them and makes them feel in control. In his mind, black men must always be kept under control. Generally speaking, people who do not show that they respect “the badge and uniform” of a police officer, they we are going to have trouble. If the person is black, double trouble, and if the person is a black male, quadruple triple trouble. When a black man looks directly and unwaveringly into the eyes of cop who is in his face for whatever reason, he is disturbing the order of things. In the cop’s mind, if you look into his eyes, it had better be a short glance with a smile. He will think you are challenging his authority. And please do not look in his eyes and frown. Bad cops hate that. It unnerves them and they will make you pay for any anxiety your stare makes them feel. They will push your buttons trying to get you to overreact, so they can have some lame excuse to lay their hands on your body and throw it jail. Just another black body placed in a cage. That’s all you would be. So, do not lose your composure. Do as my father said my grandmother taught him. Remember your ABC’s: Always Be Cool. Always Be Careful. Whenever a cop approaches you, think “ABC ..  ABC … “

This Black Men and the Average Cop 101 – Lesson 1 reminds me of Lou Gossett’s character in Officer and a Gentleman when he shouts at the hapless Richard Gere character: “Are you eyeballing me? Don’t you eyeball me boy!” Also, when I think of this lesson, I recall a friend, Troy Hawkins, telling me about the term “reckless eyeballing,” which years ago a black man could be criminally charged with if he looked directly into the eyes of a white man, instead of averting his eyes or casting them down towards his feet. So, don’t look directly into the eyes of an insecure, abusive cop. Keep your eyeballs to yourself.

Lesson 2. The Average Cop Hates Being Asked Questions: The trigger that causes the average cop to undergo an instant transformation from a good and mild-mannered Dr. Jekyll to a terrible, badass Mr. Hyde can be a simple question, such as asking him to repeat himself so you can understand what the heck he said. So, if a black man furrows his brow like he did not understand what the cop said or grimaces  because he is irritated by a smart ass remark the cop made (such as, “Is something wrong with your hearing?”), that perturbed expression on the black man’s face can be all that is needed to set off a potentially lethal encounter.

Lesson 3. Disagreeing with the Average Cop is Extremely Dangerous: If a cop pulls a black man over on the highway and during the resultant verbal exchange the black man is as respectful as a priest on Sunday morning, he could still be in jeopardy. All he would have to do to unleash grave danger upon himself is disagree with the officer’s assertion that he was speeding. I wasn’t speeding. Result? All manner of madness could break loose and suddenly the gentle Officer Friendly who pulled the brother over transforms into an out-of-control King Kong Cop. This happens so  frequently, Driving While Black has become a parcel of the lexicon of the “United” States of America.

Lesson 4. Average Cops Are the Same Regardless of Their Race: Any cop—white, black or other—can exhibit biased and prejudicial behavior towards black men. Often a racialized black cop will jack up a black guy just as readily as any racialized white cop. James Baldwin commented on this long ago, saying: Blacks in Harlem “feared black cops even more than white cops, because the black cop had to work so much harder—on your head—to prove to himself and his colleagues that he was not like all the other niggers.”

Lesson 5. If You Are Being Arrested, DO NOT FLINCH! If you push a cop’s hand off of you or in any way try to step away from him, you may be signing your own death certificate. The cop who kills you will not be held accountable. Once he states that “I feared for my life,” the police chief will exonerate him. Think Eric Garner. You saw what happened to him. The whole world saw the video.  As Angela Davis, iconic and passionate black activist and scholar, writes in Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment that “Millions of people have watched the video of a police officer choking Eric Garner to death as he struggled for air.” She says that the Garner video and other similar real-life horror flicks “have evoked feelings of fear, sadness, and outrage and serve as a reminder that the lives of black men and boys continue to be devalued and destroyed with impunity at the hands of the state.”

While millions of people saw the Garner video, no one saw him being a danger to the police. He only reacted as any natural man might react if suddenly another man grabs his arm. The natural reaction of any human being, or other mammal, or for that matter any foul or fish will be the same: Get your hands off of me. As anyone could see, the cops did not take enough time attempting to de-escalate the tension that they made Garner feel. They did not allow the gentleman to cool down and assess his options. All he needed, it appears based on his reputation as a huge but harmless soul, were two things: a) A few moments to be heard while he finished protesting the arrest, b) Ultimately accept that the arrest was going to happen despite his protest. Garner was not ready to be grabbed. Are you?

In 1976, after graduating from the Hawthorne High, located in downtown Washington, D.C., one block away from The Washington Post, I enrolled at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where I earned a journalism degree four years later. I was hired by the Washington Post straight out of college in 1980. I was 22 years old.

On one summer afternoon, my editor dispatched me to the ‘hood along Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue. The street is located across the Anacostia River in Southeast Washington, which was then an economically-depressed area that did and still does feature the highest and most dramatic panoramic vistas overlooking the city’s world renown landscape, punctuated by the awe-inspiring Washington Monument and Capitol Building.

Southeast was considered D.C.’s forgotten and isolated territory, heavily populated by the under-educated and the downtrodden. There were a lot of black so-called “ghetto” youths residing there. My assignment was to go talk to some of them about an important issue in their community—the lack of city services and its negative impact on them, especially during the summer months when they had scant structured activities to absorb and channel all of their idle time. While these poor black youths were left with nothing to do all summer long, their black preppy counterparts living in a wealthy uptown area miles away, known as the Gold Coast, had access to cool city-run pools and attractive tennis courts.

One of the busiest strips along King Avenue functioned as a notorious drug corridor. The strip was blighted by an ugly mix of unkempt storefronts, a few houses, an old police station and a Smithsonian museum that was planted there with the hopes of anchoring an urban renewal transformation that two decades later was still struggling to be realized. Instead of urban renewal, the only thing truly new that had come to the area was a new tactic of excessive policing called the Jump Out Squad—an ambush-style raid that cops used in so-called high crime “impact zones” in an effort to catch street corner drug dealers in the act.

The Jump Out Squad consisted of unmarked cars that would slowly cruise along the avenue, blending in with normal traffic. Then suddenly several cops would literally jump out of the vehicles while the cars were still moving and pounce on criminals. There was one major problem with the innovative “gotcha” strategy: Sometimes the cops would jump out and “gotcha” innocent people.

I left The Post newsroom in downtown D.C., and caught a taxi to Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, wearing a sport jacket, dress slacks and shirt and tie, and eager to find some idle young folk to talk to for my story. Shortly after arriving, it became evident that something was amiss. Absolutely no one was around, very unusual for this area of town in the middle of the day. The strip looked like a stark, abandoned battlefield with the local residents too shell shocked to venture into the light. I told the taxi driver I was a Post reporter and I asked him to keep driving down the avenue until I could see some kids I could interview.

As the car rolled along the street, it seemed the entire avenue was desolate. I couldn’t believe it. Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue was wide open and empty, not a soul to be seen.

The driver was shocked, too.  He said, “I hear the police have been jumping out of cars and harassing people around here. People must be staying away from here now. I have never seen it this quiet. It’s like a ghost town.”

“Well I guess that means I’ll be interviewing some ghosts, ‘cause I gotta talk to somebody out here for my story.”

The cabbie chuckled as he drove farther down the street.

Spotting what appeared to be two pedestrians about six blocks in the distance, I exclaimed, “Hey, there go some people down there.” I gestured towards a black couple walking with their backs to us. “They don’t look like kids, but maybe they can lead me to some kids.” The taxi driver, eager to help, jammed on the gas as if the couple would disappear if he didn’t pull right up on them immediately.

The taxi man dropped me off just ahead of the couple. I paid him, tipping him well, and then I casually walked back up the street towards the mature-looking man and woman. They were also walking casually. A few vehicles passed by, going to and fro along the long, deserted avenue. As I approached the couple, they made eye contact with me, and as we were about to pass each other, we exchanged hellos. I told them quickly but without rushing: “Hey, I need yawl’s help. Got a second?”

I flipped my left hand and lifted it up slowly to show them my Washington Post press credentials. Then, putting the press pass back in my pocket, I said, “I need to talk to you all about what you think about the way things are going over here for the youngsters during the summer when school’s out. Maybe you can introduce me to some kids you know around here so I can talk to them, too. Can you all spare a few minutes so I can tell you the kind of information I’m trying to get … And maybe ask you a few questions?”

They looked into each other’s eyes, non-verbally asking one another for an up or down vote on my interview request. They appeared to be in their early 30s. Just regular folk strolling down a nearly empty street on a warm afternoon.

The man grimaced and said, “Nah, we ain’t got no time for this.” But his lady looked at him and spoke up. She said cheerfully, “Baby, let’s talk to him. Maybe he can write a story that can help change things. You never know.”

I quickly agreed with her. “Yeah, you never know,” I said, looking straight at him. “What you tell me today could make it into the newspaper soon and something good might happen from it. Like your lady said, you never know.”

His grimace faded. He smiled slightly and said, “A-ight, man. What up? Whatchu wanna know?”

Before getting into a deep conversation with them, I wanted to get us off the narrow sidewalk so we wouldn’t be distracted by anyone who might come walking by. I looked around for a restaurant we could go into. I didn’t see any, but I could see the doorway of an abandoned store nearby and so I asked them to step inside the doorway with me so we could chat.

It was about 3 p.m. Clouds wafted overhead, creating a rippling overcast. It was warm and comfortable, with a slight breeze coming off the Anacostia River just down the hill, behind rows of houses. I pulled out my reporter’s notepad and started asking questions and taking notes. The couple shared their views on the state of affairs in the ‘hood. They said, their community was virtually under lockdown by the police. They were clear-spoken and thoughtful. I liked them and they seemed to feel comfortable with me. Our conversation was fluid. They were giving me some good quotes.

Then, WHOOSH!

Out of nowhere a plain-looking, gold-colored car zooms down the street and screeches to a halt right next to us. While the car is still sliding, the back passenger door flies open and a white cop, about 50 years old with silver hair and wearing a yellow safety vest over his blue uniform, jumps out—commando style. It would have been funny if it wasn’t so pathetic and unnecessary, given the peaceful and productive interview the cool couple and I were having.

“MOVE IT!” the cop shouted as he briskly approached us. “You can’t stand here! We’re clearing the sidewalk!”

“We’re not on the sidewalk, sir,” I replied gently. This is private property and we’re doing nothing wrong.”

Like a laser, the cop’s eyes scanned me from head to toe as I spoke.

Fear twisted the faces of my interviewees. They clutched each other tightly and shuffled their feet. Then they broke into a frantic rush out of the doorway. They obviously wanted to show snap-to-it compliance with the officer’s commands. As they skedaddled from the doorway and nearly ran down the street headed in the same direction as when I approached them, the man and woman both briefly turned back towards me. I could see their eyes bulging from their sockets like Stepin Fetchit. It was as if these nice people were inaudibly asking me, “Why the hell aren’t you scared like us? Why aren’t you leaving, too?” Their intimidated behavior belied the oppression they felt under the rule of these warlords of Southeast, the cops in the Jump Out Squad.

I wanted them to join me in challenging the warlords’ illegal harassment, which violated our natural and constitutional rights to gather peaceably. Perhaps well-conditioned from previous similar encounters with the law, the last thing they wanted was to “mess with the police,” no matter their rights were being violated—natural, civil, constitutional or whatever. They did what they thought they needed to do to make sure the armed enforcers would leave them alone.

The yellow-vested officer smiled with noticeable satisfaction as he saw the couple scoot away. Then turning his attention back towards motionless me, he snarled: “We’re clearing this area, I said. Now, MOVE!” Then he placed his hand on his holstered gun.

Clearly, in this forgotten ghetto, he was determined to trash and trample upon everyone’s rights as he so pleased. And since the Founding Documents were not there to defend themselves or me or anyone else in his path, I could see that there really was nothing more to do at that moment but comply with his order. As I began walking away, I politely said, “OK, sir. No problem.” I glanced towards his chest trying to get a glimpse of his badge number so I could make a note of it, standard practice when I interacted with the police. But the cop’s safety vest completely covered his badge. So, I smiled, looked him in the eye and softly asked him, “May I have your badge number, sir?”

That was all this rogue needed. His jumpy blue eyes peered back into my calm brown eyes and then widened menacingly. He was shocked and insulted by my benign request. He obviously took it as an insult, an affront to his warlord status and power. I’m sure it didn’t help that I towered over him, which forced him to look up to me.

“You’re under arrest,” the warlord officer blared. Then he grabbed me with his left hand while using his free hand to pull out his gun. He ordered me to place my hands behind my back. He snatched my reporter’s notebook and ink pen from my hands, and threw them to the ground. Then he handcuffed me and shoved me into the back of the unmarked car. His partner was still at the wheel with the engine running. The little warlord picked up my property from the sidewalk and got into the shotgun seat. And then off we went to the Seventh District (7D) police station, one of Southeast Washington’s busiest places.

So, just like that, I became yet another innocent black man, arrested and taken into custody for nothing; another damn statistic added to the mountainous heap of crime data on black men; another target of excessive and selective law enforcement intended to demean the psyches and mar the reputations of black men while demoralizing entire communities of black people.

But wait a minute. Not so fast. Fortunately, I worked for one of the most powerful news corporations in the world. After the cops escorted me into 7D, which was located about a mile up King Avenue, down another major thoroughfare, then down a hill and tucked away on a side street named Mississippi, they let me place a phone call to the newsroom. The Post’s legendary executive editor, Ben Bradlee, always the bold guardian of his reporters, took a personal interest in making sure I was OK and released from police custody ASAP.

Big Time Corporate Lawyers

How well connected does someone have to be to be treated like a human being?

— Patricia Wudell

The Post big-time lawyers, Williams and Connolly, called the police department’s legal brass. Whatever those Post corporate lawyers told those cop lawyers got me sprung from the holding cell and back across the river in no time. I was out of there so quickly, I believe I made it back to the newsroom before the daily deadline, about 6 p.m. When I arrived, Ben called me into his office so we could talk about what happened. I was self-assured and eager to talk to him, yet I was a bit anxious. Was I going to lose my job because of some racist cop?! I would not be the first black man to go down like that, which is a damn shame. When someone is arrested, it often affects his employment. Sometimes due to missing days at work while spending time in jail. And sometimes because the arrest, if made public, can tarnish the image of his employer. This is one of the hidden costs of The War in America.

Several floors above Ben’s spacious office was the office of the young Post publisher, Donald “Don” Graham, who had worked a short stint as a D.C. cop. I wondered what Don would think about my run-in with his old buddies in blue. But my primary concern was Ben. He was the boss of the newsroom. It was he who would determine my fate as a Post reporter. I’m sure he wanted to know whether I had done something wrong, something off-kilter that elicited the ire of the street cop who cuffed me and swept me off the street to jail.

Benjamin C. Bradlee, who, sadly, passed away in 2014, was legend for good reason. Foremost among his well-known journalistic feats is his historic stewardship of The Post’s Watergate investigation. The outlines of that journalistic high water mark are well known. The Watergate stories exposed numerous crimes and “dirty tricks” committed by government operatives, and eventually led to the near-impeachment of President Richard M. Nixon, who resigned in 1974. Tricky Dick was no match for Bradlee and his crackerjack newsroom, which of course featured Pulitzer Prize winners Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

Beyond the fame and fanfare surrounding Ben, he was also known as a witty and happy guy—and the best friend anyone could ever hope to have. I knew him as a truly decent human being who always kept it real and had been “keeping it real” since long before hip hop coined the expression.

Sitting down at his large glass desk while I sat opposite him, Ben listened intently, eyes unwavering, and without interrupting as I told him the short version of what had gone down hours earlier. I admitted to Ben that I felt humiliated and extremely embarrassed that The Post had to “bail” me out. At age 24, I was a proud and very self-confident young man who, ever since managing an Exxon gas station as a teenager supervising men twice my age, had always found a way to handle all kinds of problems on my own.

Ben, a silver-haired white man, who had counted such men as President John F. Kennedy as close friends, told me not to worry about the mishap on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue; to forget about it, continue working hard and to be careful. As long as I did my job in a respectful and professional manner, there would be nothing for me or The Post to be embarrassed about. He stood signaling that the meeting was over. He came from around his desk and I stood up as he reached out and shook my hand.

Then he paused and in his gravel voice, which actor Jason Robard memorably dramatized in the movie All the President’s Men and which would be echoed years later in the baritone of rapper Tone Loc, Ben said, “I am surprised that the cop would arrest you, if he knew you were a reporter for The Post. You told him you worked for us, didn’t you?”

“No, sir.”

“Why not. He didn’t give you a chance to show your ID?”

“Right, he didn’t give me a chance to say much at all… but I shouldn’t have to tell a cop I work for The Post in order for him to respect my rights.”

“That’s true. You are right about that … Alright, then like I said, don’t worry about it. Just be careful out there. If anything like that happens again, you tell me, alright?

“Yes, sir.”

“Because I don’t want anybody messing with you. OK?”

“Cool. I appreciate that, Ben. Thank you.”

I have to admit, that was a touching moment for me—not only as a young reporter, but also as a young man. The big boss of the newsroom had taken the time to hear me out and give me his blessing after I had just gone through a demoralizing ordeal. His parting words at the end of our chat—“I don’t want anybody messing with you”—echoed in my mind as I left Ben’s office. Only one other person in my life had ever said those words to me: my father.

Walking back towards my desk on the opposite side of the newsroom, a solid sense of security enveloped me. I held my back a bit straighter and my head a bit higher. I now realized that I had real backup … just like the cops.

And that was the end of that miserable police episode.

The cop who illegally arrested me was not held accountable for his abusive misuse of his police power. The Post did not sue the police department for infringing upon my rights and interfering with official Post business. I was supposed to let the whole thing blow over and not make a big deal of being falsely arrested, handcuffed and treated like a criminal. It was assumed that I was strong enough to bounce right back, and I did. But I had again experienced one of the troubling micro aggressions that countless other black men in America experience every day. We are all constantly at risk of being in the wrong place with the wrong cop. We all are at risk of getting swallowed by the law enforcement system like defenseless guppies being gulped by heartless piranhas.

My handcuffed trip into the bowels of the law, courtesy of the Jump Out Squad, was minor compared to what most black men experience after being caught up in similar circumstances. I was lucky to have Washington Post power players behind me. Thanks to their reputations and their well-connected attorneys, my time behind bars was probably the shortest cell time in the history of the police department.

As I aged, my War in America battles grew more intense. After working for The Post for seven years, where I pursued my passion for news reporting amongst the best journalists in the business, I left to pursue my passion to work among black men behind bars bars—the least of these my brethren, to borrow from a Biblical verse. Or borrowing from what George Washington Carver, the agricultural scientific mastermind said was his career goal, I launched a new career that enabled me to “help the man farthest down.”

For more than one year, I mulled over an offer to serve as the spokesman for the DC Department of Corrections. I ultimately accepted the position, because it enabled me to join city leaders at the table of decision, where I could use my communications skills, political ideas and creativity to influence the prison system’s efforts to rehabilitate black men—forgotten men who scholars, such as Elizabeth Alexander describe as refuse at the bottom of an American caste system, where some are “serving life sentences for first-time drug offenses, something virtually unheard of anywhere else in the world.”

I was the prison spokesman while the city government was led by Mayor Marion Barry, who was either loved or loathed, depending on which area of the city he was visiting.

Going It Alone

Having left the powerful and prestigious Washington Post, I no longer had an influential boss to call to help me out when police pounce on me for illegitimate reasons. I was on a friendly first-name basis with Mayor Barry, but as millions of people know, he had his own problems to deal with. So, I had to fend for myself and stand my own ground whenever racialized cops crossed my path—just like scores of other Joe Blow black men do each day. Going it alone has only made me more determined to find a way to keep racially biased cops from intruding into my life and the lives of the millions of other black Joe Blows.

I have indeed attempted to defend myself and hold bad cops, however unlike other black men who pursue justice after being abused, I have never sued the police. Black men who’ve suffered severe police abuse have sued and been awarded millions of dollars in payments from municipal and state governments, which bear the financial burden of racist law enforcement (rather than the bad cops responsible for inflicting the abuse). Instead of trying to financially benefit from my rough encounters with cops, I’ve transmuted my agony into constructive energy. After each run-in with a bad cop, I have taken the lickin’ and kept right on tickin’. Refusing to simply curse the problem, I have instead focused on finding effective ways to rise above it and solve it.

As stated earlier, I will discuss my proposed solutions later in this book. For now, I’ll share a few more of the war stories that triggered the insights that led to those solutions.

Racist White Cop Admits
He Just Wanted to Check Me Out

I bought my spanking new Porsche, yes, that black Porsche I mentioned earlier, on a chilly night on April 10, 1987, the day before my 29th birthday. Five months later, during a bright and warm morning on the 17th of September, I was driving the factory-fresh car in D.C. when a white cop, driving one of the city’s patriotic red-white-and-blue squad police cruisers stopped me and arrested me on trumped up charges.

About two-and-half months afterwards, on December 2, 1987, in a small courtroom in D.C. Superior Court, the officer, John Alter, whose actions and remarks at the scene of the arrest revealed that he was racist, told a jury that he stopped me because he thought my car was stolen. But in a slip of the tongue, Alter, a rookie, he admitted that he stopped me because, “I wanted to check him out.” That was the real reason why he stopped me. It wasn’t the Porsche he was interested in; it was the black man driving it.

Yep, the ol’ curse of the black man in a Porsche. Of course, the curse’s poison has now spread to just about any luxury vehicle a black man is supposedly not deserving to own or drive, such as a BMW, Mercedes Benz, Jaguar, Escalade or Bentley. Many cops are afflicted with the curse. Some just can’t seem to resist pulling over a brother in a Porsche or similar “expensive” car at least every now and then—especially a shiny black-on-black “exotic” car that looks like it just rolled off the showroom floor, blazing with beauty and grace.

A racialized cop is riveted to attention as he watches, no, stares at, the confident and supremely happy working black guy cruising along the street in an envy-evoking automobile, playing upbeat music on the automobile’s modulated stereophonic system, chillin’ nice, easy and effortlessly in his own private Zen-ensconced world, minding his own business without a care in the world. Totally free.

No. The black man is not totally free. And a black man ain’t supposed to be rolling as if he were totally free, especially not on a racist cop’s turf. Oh, hell no.

Aided by his supervisor and back-up officers, Alter wrote a fictitious arrest report. He alleged that I had been speeding recklessly. And that I had led the police on a high speed chase—like in the movies. And that during this dramatic, make-believe high speed chase, I made a hard 45-degree right turn and temporarily disappeared. All of this supposedly happened with any skid marks on the pavement and no witnesses who would come forward to back up the lie.

Based on the false charges, the police locked me up in the city’s central cell block in the basement of Superior Court. Several floors above the cell block, my father’s old friend from Memphis, Tennessee, Judge Luke C. Moore, was hard at work in his chambers. I was ashamed at my circumstances, and yes, seething with anger.

Ironically, I would later learn that September 17, 1987 was also the 200th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. So, on the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, which in 1787 made it legal to treat a black men as three-fifths human, law enforcers in the Nation’s Capital did just that.

It was as if America was laughing at me and saying: Happy anniversary! You’re still a nigger! Here’s your prize: Some new shackles (Clink!) And a jail cell (Clank!)

Some celebration.

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