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February 2023

Black History 2023: Black Resistance Needed Now More than Ever


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Va-Va Byers

It’s hard to believe that the first month of 2023 has transpired and we are already well into February but here we are. Well, you know, if it’s February, it must be Black History Month. That’s cool for most people but for us, in February, we are unapologetically EXTRA Blackitty Black because we celebrate and honor our Blackness all year. The 2023 Black History theme is Black Resistance. That is needed in Miami and throughout Florida, because the level of disrespect and anti-Blackness is unreal. No one is going to save us but us. So let's STAY WOKE!

We find ourselves dealing with the trauma of the lynching of Tyre Nichols by five black cops in Memphis; continuing anti-Blackness culture wars from Republican leaders in Tallahassee; the takeover of the Virginia Key Beach Park Trust Board by Miami commissioners; the politicization of the Miami-Dade County School Board and disrespect of Black, seasoned board members (No, two Black Teachers of the Year won’t compensate for that. We celebrate them, though.); the reneging of funds promised to the Circle of Brotherhood and public grilling by Miami commissioners; and a symbolic attempt at we don’t know what by Miami Police with a Black History Month themed police cruiser. We still haven’t forgotten about the execution-style shooting of Antwon Cooper by a Miami cop during a routine traffic stop in Liberty City in March 2022. So, miss us with that, please.

Please get out and vote in the City of Miami District 2 race on February 27. Confirm your voting status now.

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Maya Angelou

Congressional Gold Medal to be Presented to Trailblazing Marine Corps Heroes at Noon on Monday, February 6

Congressional Gold Medal to be Presented to Trailblazing Marine Corps Heroes at Noon on Monday  February 6
At noon, on Monday, February 6th, Corporal George J. Johnson, one of the few living Montford Point Marines and the family of the late Corporal Moses Williams will receive their replica Congressional Gold Medal at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale.


“If it were a question of having a Marine Corps of 5,000 whites or 250,000 Negroes, I would prefer the whites. …They are trying to break into a club that does not want them.”

General Thomas Holcomb
United States Marine Corps
17th Commandant (1936-1943)


Such was the position of the leadership of the United States Marine Corps regarding the African American men who integrated the Corps on August 26, 1942. To stave off a threatened March-on-Washington led by labor union and civil rights leader, A. Philip Randolph, United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt, amid a re-election campaign, reluctantly agreed to integrate the Marine Corps. Thus, the Montford Point Marines were born. They were a social experiment. The men were allowed in the Marine Corps to prove that Blacks could not be Marines.

However, between 1942-1949, some 20,000 African American men would become Montford Point Marines. The men were subjected to inhumane living conditions, racial taunting, and physical abuse. The initial recruits had to build their segregated training camp, Montford Point Camp — by hand. Despite those obstacles, the Montford Point Marines proved their doubters wrong.

At noon, on Monday, February 6th, Corporal George J. Johnson, one of the few living Montford Point Marines and the family of the late Corporal Moses Williams will receive their replica Congressional Gold Medal. On November 23, 2011, President Barack Obama signed into law the legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Montford Point Marines. This award recognizes the contributions of the Montford Point Marines to the Marine Corps and the United States of America during a time of tremendous hardship and segregation. The original medal was collectively presented to the Montford Point Marines at a U.S. Capitol ceremony on June 27, 2012.

Local hero, Corporal George J. Johnson is 101-years-young. After graduating from Dillard High School in 1942, Johnson registered for the Selective Service. He became a Montford Point Marine shortly after his 22nd birthday in 1943.

While at Montford Point Camp, Johnson was trained as a military police officer. He also served in the Asiatic Pacific Theater from 1945 to 1946. Johnson briefly enrolled in Florida A&M College, now Florida A&M University, in Tallahassee. He met Hannah Marie Gaines there, whom he would later marry. They lived in New York until Johnson retired from a career in law enforcement. Mrs. Johnson passed away in 2013.

Inarguably, Corporal Johnson is living American history. He, Corporal Williams, and their fellow Montford Pointers are the standard of patriotism and perseverance. They are due the respect and reverence they have earned. So they can be properly documented in the register of the Montford Point Marines and their Congressional Gold Medal awarded, if you know a living or deceased Montford Point Marine, contact the National Montford Point Marine Association at

To attend the local Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony:

In the Company of Greatness: Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony
   for Montford Point Marines – Corporal George J. Johnson and Corporal Moses Williams
Noon, Monday, February 6, 2023
African American Research Library and Cultural Center
2650 Sistrunk Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL  33311

The ceremony is free and open to the public.


Please visit these related links for important historical information on the Montford Point Marines:

Our America: Mission Montford Point [VIDEO]

The Mission to Find Montford Point Marines [VIDEO]

The Marines of Montford Point: Fighting for Freedom [VIDEO]

Montford Point Marines Congressional Gold Medal Parade, June 28, 2012 [VIDEO]

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' Proposals On Higher Education Pose a Grave Threat to Academic Freedom and Free Speech at Public Colleges and Universities

DeSantis Higher Ed Proposals

NEW YORK -- PEN America called Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s announcement of a broad outline of legislation to restrict the historic autonomy of higher education “a grave threat to free speech and academic freedom” at Florida’s public colleges and universities.

Among other changes, the governor’s proposals announced Tuesday would ban critical race theory (CRT) and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives (DEI) at universities; effectively end tenure protections by giving boards of trustees hiring and firing power over faculty; rewrite university mission statements; compel colleges and universities to deprioritize certain fields that are deemed to further a “political agenda”; and “overhaul and restructure” New College of Florida, whose new board of trustees, made up largely of conservative pundits, on Tuesday fired the college president and replaced her with a political ally of the governor.

In response to the proposals, Jeremy C. Young, senior manager of free expression and education at PEN America, released the following statement:

“These proposals represent nothing less than an effort to substitute the dictates of elected officials for the historic autonomy of higher education institutions. If enacted, they would unquestionably pose a grave threat to free speech on Florida campuses. The core freedom that is a vital prerequisite of academic research and teaching is the ability of scholars and students to pursue lines of inquiry, and this in turn depends on a university remaining free from political interference.

“Further,” Young continued, “the recent actions at New College -- where a board selected to further an ideological agenda fired the president at its first meeting -- reflects the inclinations of a government that wants to exert greater and narrower ideological control over higher education; not one that respects open inquiry or academic freedom. This proposal and these actions deserve vehement and vigorous opposition from all who hold free speech on campus dear.”