31. January 2013 05:20
by Administrator
1 Comments

Martin Luther King Day through the eyes of an Egyptian

31. January 2013 05:20 by Administrator | 1 Comments

Guest Blogger:  Amina ElHalawani, Fulbright FLTA, Birmingham Southern College  

A few days ago we celebrated Martin Luther King Day in the United States.  Being a Fulbright scholar in Birmingham, Alabama I got the opportunity to go to a celebration held at the historic 16th Street Baptist Church. With the presidential inauguration taking place on the same day, it could not have been any better, any more celebratory or joyful.  People sang of freedom, of equality, of pride in the journey and the call for civil rights, but most importantly, they sang of the dream. Martin Luther King’s words “I have a dream” reverberated in the hall as they all cheered that the dream has to live on and on until it becomes fully realized, and I wondered…

The dream? Has it not been realized? Has not the Civil Rights Movement in the United States achieved its utmost goals, being crowned by the election of President Obama for a second term? Yet, as these thoughts ran through my head, I could still hear the chants “Ain't gonna let nobody turn me around...Turn me around...Turn me around...” and the occasional yell from the crowds, “Soldiers of the dream!” Moving is not enough to fully describe the celebration; full of emotion and pride people were celebrating, but in the midst of the ecstasy there was no sense of complacency, the fighting spirit instilled in them by a sense of responsibility and a calling to turn the world into a better place filled the air.

Being an Egyptian, I could immediately relate. I suddenly started visualizing Tahrir Square, the tear gas, and the water hoses… the determination, the courage and the strength of will… And back at the church the chants grew louder: “Ain't gonna let the administration turn me around...Turn me around...Turn me around...Ain't gonna let the administration turn me around...Keep on a-walkin', Keep on a-talkin'…Gonna build a brand new world.” I could see the millions who marched the streets of Egypt, hand in hand, united by the dream of building that brand new world. People of all ages, men and women, Muslims and Christians, liberals and conservatives, all marched… In the church, the choir sang, “Ain't gonna let no first-strike policy turn me around...Turn me around...Turn me around...”

The dream was alive, I could feel it in the air, I could see it in the eyes of everyone around me, as they glanced at me and smiled, knowing I am just a visitor and encouraging me to sing along. “We shall overcome” the choir started to sing, and the congregation suddenly, even more fired up, started singing along. One of the choir members doing a solo went into some kind of a trance while the people yelled “Hallelujah!” and started praying… They prayed in song, they honored the foot soldiers who were sitting among us, then put their hands together and the voices rose above the sound of the grand organ accompanying their singing.

“Where do we stand now? Two years after the revolution…Wow, two years already?” I thought to myself. Then, flashes of the packed squares and the patriotic songs that echoed in the streets as the news announced that Mubarak had stepped down rushed through my brain… What a feeling that was! Two years… it feels like so long ago now, people barely remember it. To many, this was the moment, nothing else mattered… it was going to be a nice smooth ride from there…

The chants in the church grew louder, as I held hands with the people beside me and joined the singing, “Oh Freedom… Oh Freedom… Oh Freedom, now!” On the fiftieth anniversary of major events in the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, the dream was alive with all its greatness; the desire for a better world, for the right to be free, for the right to be treated with dignity, for the right to a world that rewards ingenuity, creativity and hard work... “Today, we stand on the shoulders of brave warriors” the preacher reminded, as he called on the people to go on, move forward and continue the journey… Fifty years the dream has lived on… “Is it going to take Egyptians that long too? Is it going to be that many years before we start reaping what our great warriors have sewn?” I certainly hope not! But, in the meantime, the dream must live on; it must be revived in every one of us… It is the dream that brought us all together, as communities, as a nation and as global citizens and it is keeping it constantly in sight that shall lead all of us through to the light at the end of the tunnel…

Oh Freedom… Oh Freedom… Oh Freedom, now!

21. January 2013 13:44
by Tammi Sharpe
4 Comments

A Leader: A tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, his fellow leaders and the Birmingham foot soldiers

21. January 2013 13:44 by Tammi Sharpe | 4 Comments

 

A Leader:  A tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, his fellow leaders and the Birmingham foot soldiers

Does America currently have a national leader fighting for a just American society like we had in the 1960s?  A leader that, as Binnie Myles said, would make you describe him/her as “the only leader that I can honestly say that I ever followed….If that man said, ‘go to jail,’ I went to jail.  And I was only 16 years at the time…..He stood out for justice and the right thing for all people, not just one.”  A leader, who could inspire you even in your 60s to protest like Emma Young, who had been born in 1902: “I was so enthused….I just love him so because he was teaching us so much.” A leader whom you would call “a parent…as well as a leader” like Mary E. Streeter Perry, who even lost her job for her participation.   In the 1960s, America had a number of such leaders, whose words generated reflection as well as action.

These quotes reflect a common thread that weaves through the hundreds of interviews with foot soldiers that have been conducted by BCRI in order to document the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, AL.  In these interviews, foot soldiers describe mass meetings as occasions when thoughtful speakers translated the daily injustices African-Americans suffered into a discourse on rights and outlined a democratic means to obtain those rights.  These speakers’ rhetoric inspired thousands of foot soldiers to fill Birmingham’s streets in protest, to face fire hoses and dogs, and to go to jail.

Foot soldiers cite an array of inspirational speakers, such as Reverend Shuttlesworth, Andrew Young, James Bevel, Carlton Reese, and Reverend Abernathy.  And as many would suspect, Dr. King features prominently in the interviews.  The above quotes were specifically referencing Dr. King.  As evidenced by the passage of some thirty years after the protests when these interviews were conducted, Dr. King’s leadership has had enduring impact.  This most clearly come through in Mallory Coats interview.  At the age of 12 years, Mallory Coats was selected from among his fellow students to read the Emancipation Proclamation at an annual event held on New Year’s Day and at which Dr. King was the guest speaker.

“I had heard of Dr. King and the boycott of ’55 so he was not a stranger to me.  But, when I saw the policemen and all the crowds and all the people standing outside of the church, I just said to myself, ‘Dad, can we go home....?’ He said, ‘okay, you’re here, you’re going and you will do well.  No turning around.’  So, what could I do?  I got up, went on the stage and was sitting two persons from Dr. King and he gave his great address and I just sat there amazed.  That’s the first really Black person of renowned stature I had ever been [in] the company of.  I forgot about my speech.  I’m thinking wouldn’t it be great to be someone like that, to stand before people and demand their attention, to be so articulate and all that.  When it was my time on the program, I went through it and he [Dr. King] presented me this book….It’s a Negro history book and Langston Hughes was the writer of this book and his autograph is in it.  I made a promise to myself about a week after this to use this book to encourage black kids…to read.  And, so what I would do, especially when I was teaching…I would tell them [the black male students] the story of this book.  I said, “You know, I got a chance to meet one of the world’s greatest men and shake [his] hand.”  And they would say, “Who?”  I said, “Dr. Martin Luther King and I was just in the 6th grade.  And, I got that experience because I could read….You can see it’s old and has been used, but I made a promise to myself a long time ago that when it was time, I would use this book.  One of the reasons I believe I got a masters in reading was because I understood as a black male, it is so important that black males learn to read adequately…..This book has been something that has not lost its glamour or thrust with me at all.  I’ve gotten many awards, but this is the most precious thing I’ve ever received because of the spirit in which it was given and in the time that it was given….I was in the midst of the struggle and I found it to be encouraging.” 

Like these foot soldiers many Americans can still be awed by Dr. King’s eloquence.  His words can still stir our desires for a more just society.  The words of the foot soldiers, in addition to honoring Dr. King, are also inspiration.  These few foot soldiers are representative of thousands whose sacrifices substantially changed a culture of silence and conformity.  As we commemorate the legacy of Dr. King and the army of foot soldiers who made up the Civil Rights Movement, we may also wish to reflect in their honor on what more is needed to fully “transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”**  

 

*Starting in 1994 the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute began interviewing the foot soldiers of the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement as part of its Oral History Project.  Interviewees provide first hand insights on the Movement including becoming conscious of civil rights and equality, the organization and the philosophy behind the Movement, and personal reflections of participation some 30 years later.  

** King, M. L., “I Have a Dream”, March on Washington, Washington, D.C., 1963

 

18. January 2013 04:27
by Tammi Sharpe
2 Comments

In My Country Too?!*

18. January 2013 04:27 by Tammi Sharpe | 2 Comments

My work has exposed me to hearing first-hand accounts of a range of human rights violations including arbitrary arrest, brutal beatings, gang rape, amputations, beheadings, cannibalism, captivity, and sex slavery.  In trying to understand how people could reach such depths of depravity, I was struck by the reality that these violations occurred in a theatre of war and/or under the reign of a dictatorship.  This understanding did not excuse the severity of the crime but it placed brutality and cruelty within a surreal context.  With more and more exposure, this surreal context became a grey zone where it was difficult to make unequivocal statements about culpability.

The focus of my work has recently shifted and I am beginning to delve into American history and the violations that have been committed against African-Americans.  I was not ignorant of this past nor did I or do I have a glossy view of the U.S.’ current human rights record, but it has nonetheless, been a humbling experience. 

I’m looking at the post U.S. Civil War-the end of slavery.  Yet, gross forms of human rights violations against freed African-Americans continued, namely in the form of segregation and convict leasing**.  I’ve been shocked at the abhorrent conditions under which leased convicts, primarily African-Americans, labored at private farms and mining companies starting in the aftermath of the Civil War continuing till the 1940s.   Those working conditions were disturbingly similar to conditions of captivity under the Revolutionary United Front-a Sierra Leonean rebel faction.  Segregation not only created a separate, unequal system, it allowed for a climate of terror, which had parallels with accounts Haitians made about living under a repressive  dictatorship.  But the U.S. was neither a dictatorship nor were we at war when these human rights violations were being committed in the U.S.      

How, then, could these abuses happen?  The answer I am finding is not novel.  It involves an extensive web of culpability as is well-illustrated by the convict leasing abuses.  One can first look to the guards at the work sites.  The guards treated these men as less than humans, using leather whips to enforce excessive daily quotas.   But employers-prominent businessmen-not the guards, established the quotas and the work conditions.  The conditions were such that many died, and for some this death sentence could have been for a concocted crime or petty theft.  Sheriffs and local court officials respectively arrested and convicted African-Americans as, like for the employers, convict leasing was profitable for them too.  Yes, this system was authorized by state law.  A number of state legislatures (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas) passed laws creating the conditions under which convict leasing flourished as a means of exploitable and cheap labor for businessmen, which in turn benefited the state.   

At the turn of the century, the Federal Government investigated incidents of peonage and involuntary servitude in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.  A U.S. Attorney in Alabama also tried to prosecute such cases with an aim to eradicate the practice.  A small handful of defendants pleaded guilty but the number was insufficient to dismantle the system.  In face of the prevalence and profitability of the system, the Federal Government lacked sufficient political will to fully pursue the cases.  The U.S. District Court Judge in Alabama also realized that no matter how substantial the evidence might be against this new form of slavery, sentiments of racism and white supremacy would likely cloud a rational assessment of the cases by juries.  Consequently, it took decades before this system of “slavery” ended. 

It equally took decades to overturn the legal system of segregation that was also installed in the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War.  Again, evidence of the injustice existed, and culpability was extensive.  Photos of lynchings starkly depict the climate of fear that reigned.  Some of these photos also point to the wider public’s engagement:  it is not so rare to find photos of lynchings with bystanders smiling as if they were at an entertainment event rather than the scene of a murder.  Similar to the power of juries, the approval of these bystanders allowed, in part, for these crimes to go unpunished. 

Chuck Morgan,*** a white lawyer in Birmingham captured extensive culpability in a speech following the death of three girls in one of many church bombings that earned the city the name “Bombingham” in the 50s and 60s:

                        “And who is really guilty?  Each of us.  Each citizen who has not consciously attempted to bring about peaceful compliance with the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, each citizen who has ever said ‘they ought to kill that nigger,’ every citizen who votes for the candidate with the bloody flag [Confederate Flag]; every citizen and every school board member and school-teacher and principal and businessman and judge and lawyer who has corrupted the minds of our youth; every person in this community who has in any way contributed during the past several years to the popularity of hatred is at least as guilty, or more so, than the demented fool who threw that bomb.” 

Morgan’s words lay bare a culpability that I had appreciated, but one which I did not have to consider so plainly until I began looking at human rights violations in my own country, which was a democratic state and was not at war during these times.  This type of culpability is even more difficult to rationalize, but to prevent reoccurrences of the same or those of a similar nature we need to understand the causes.  It is also disturbing to have to admit that this is part of my country’s history and therein part of my American identity too.    

 

* A longer version of this post discussing experiences aboard can be found on my personal blog http://www.journeytoreconciliation.com/blog.html

** For more on convict leasing see Blackmon, D., “Slavery by Another Name, The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II,” Anchor Books, New York, 2008.

*** Charles Morgan’s full speech can be found in his autobiography:  Morgan, C., “A Time to Speak, The story of a young American lawyer’s struggle for his city and for himself,” Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1964.

15. January 2013 06:50
by Tammi Sharpe
0 Comments

"America's Challenge: Fulfilling the Dream"

15. January 2013 06:50 by Tammi Sharpe | 0 Comments

In June 1968, close to five years after Dr. Martin Luther King gave his speech, “I have a dream” in Washington, D.C., Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth gave a speech in Bay City, Michigan, titled “America’s Challenge:  Fulfilling the Dream.”   A copy of this speech is among the various items donated by Reverend Shuttlesworth to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.  As the leader of the civil rights movement in Birmingham, Reverend Shuttlesworth worked closely with Dr. King from 1955 till his death in 1968.   Reverend Shuttlesworth collaborated with Dr. King in an infinite number of ways, key amongst are the Montgomery bus boycott, the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the March on Washington, and protests in Birmingham including the one that resulted in Dr. King’s arrest in 1963 during which Dr. King wrote the famed “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”  From this close collaboration, Reverend Shuttlesworth gained some keen insights  and was intimately familiar with Dr. King’s thinking.  

Reverend Shuttlesworth’s speech, “America’s Challenge: Fulfilling the Dream,” provides not only a reflection on the meaning of Dr. King’s word but also an assessment of what followed in the five years after the speech.  In 1968 Reverend Shuttlesworth did not believe that the “dream” had been realized.  But at the same time he appreciated that he was speaking at a time of great change and progress.  In this speech, Reverend Shuttlesworth comments on the history of the civil rights movement highlighting a couple of major achievements, namely the passage of the Civil Rights Act and re-enfranchisement of African Americans.  He also discusses the essence of Dr. King’s “dream” as one of a tolerant society and economic and social justice. 

With the upcoming 50th Anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and in remembrance of Dr. King this January, Reverend Shuttlesworth’s words provide a useful guide to reflect on progress in realizing this “dream” in the last 45 years.   In some aspects, it is a speech that could be read today. 

“America’s Challenge:  Fulfilling the Dream”

There can no longer be any blinking of the fact that we are in the midst of a social and moral revolution in this land.

[….]

For unnumbered years America has allowed injustice to reign unchecked throughout the fabric of its whole life.  In the South there were open and flagrant violations against Blacks, poor Whites, and other minorities.  In the North there were the insidious, and many times, invisible workings of discrimination which were harder to see, but had the same chilling effect of killing hopes, shattering dreams, and stifling initiative.

[.…]

Then in 1955, under the leadership of a young prophet named Martin Luther King, Jr., Negroes moved to challenge the conscience of this nation by non-violent demonstrations.  It is now history – the battles of Montgomery, Alabama, Albany, Georgia, Birmingham, Alabama, which gave us the Civil Rights Bill, and Selma, Alabama, which gave Negroes the right to vote.  There was the historic 1963 March on Washington, joined in by white and black, rich and poor, high and low, in which this modern Moses spoke of his Dream for America.  His dream was not blacks overcoming whites or even the poor overcoming the rich; rather blacks and whites working together, those in power and with affluence helping to educate and lift the standards of the poor; and that somehow our land would seek to turn its face and energies from war and build here on these shores a heaven, a Beloved city, a brother hood-where man would become his brother’s keeper instead of his brother’s killer.

The Dreamer is dead but he lives in his dreams because they are really the dreams of America.  They are the dreams of hope, of fulfillment, of creativity, of richness of character and life, of peaceful protest against any and all injustices, of having enough and a little to spare, of every man looking out for his brother and standing with his brother, of every man looking into his own heart and overcoming by the disposition of love the violence therein.  This should be your dream; this is America’s Challenge. 

Dr. King and his workers dreamed of a society that could overcome its own violent and racist tendencies.  For it is a terrible violence that keeps men from becoming their best selves by whatever means it is accomplished.  It is violence that men may be born in a society, grow up within it and learn that there is really no place in society for them.  It is violence that some… in our society can brag of wall-to-wall carpets while so many complain of wall-to-wall roaches and rats.  It is violence that the education system of this land has left so many unprepared for a day of technology and automation.  

[….]

Speech Delivered by Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth, Bay City, Michigan, Saturday, June 1, 1968

9. January 2013 17:00
by Tammi Sharpe
1 Comments

Go Slow / People in Motion

9. January 2013 17:00 by Tammi Sharpe | 1 Comments

 

Click here to download full report: ACMHR1966.pdf (8.68 mb)

Go Slow / People in Motion

“Go slow” a figurative phrase capturing resistance to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ‘60s.  In 1963, Nina Simone sang “Mississippi Goddam” and conveyed the frustrations associated with this phrase.  Through powerful lyrics about “hound dogs on my trail, [and] school children sitting in jail” she conjures potent resistance that was solidifying in response to African-Americans’ growing demands for civil rights.  By asserting that “me and my people are just about due” Ms. Simone alludes to the perpetuity of the call from those who “keep on saying go slow.”  As she enumerates the goals of the Movement—desegregation, mass participation, unification, and equality—a repeating chorus line of “too slow” can be heard in the background, calling into question the prudence of the advice–“Go slow.”    

In 1966, the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) evoked these same connotations in a booklet entitled “People in Motion” documenting their tenth anniversary.  This title, “People in Motion” effectively underscored the magnitude of ACMHR’s achievements through ten years of defying the advice to “go slow.”   A group of African American Ministers created the ACMHR in 1956 after Alabama officials outlawed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from operating in the state.  ACMHR continued the struggle to eliminate African-Americans’ status as second-class citizens.  Through a multitude of civil disobedience acts—court cases, petitions, protests, economic boycotts, sit-ins, registering voters—ACMHR advanced civil rights in Birmingham for African-Americans.   Their booklet provides a comprehensive overview of the activities and successes of ACMHR during the crucial period of the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham (1956-1966).      

The booklet concludes by stating that the Movement, in 1966, stood at a “crossroads” summarizing progress as follows:

When one considers the original demands of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights when it formed in 1956, a remarkable number of them have been at least partially achieved.  The buses are desegregated, and so are the parks with the shameful exception of the closed swimming pools.  School segregation has been broken, even though integration is still token.* Public eating places are integrated if one can afford to eat in them; Negro police have been hired, although in token numbers.  At least a few Negroes are working in jobs never open to them before; the bars to Negro voter registration have been torn down. 

And, all important, white police cannot with impunity terrorize and brutalize Negroes on the streets and in their homes as they once could and did in Birmingham.  

But no one here feels the struggle is over or that the perfect society has arrived.  The integration that exists is still token, for the great masses of black people jobs are still non-existent or at the lowest rungs of the economic ladder. 

Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, the President of ACMHR, donated a copy of this booklet to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Archives.  Flip through the report to gain some understanding of the injustices of segregation and the sacrifices—including potential loss of employment, arrest, physical abuse and death—that it took to bring about change.  Then consider this question: 

Since 1966, have we continued to challenge advice to “go slow”? 

* Between 1963 and 1966 more than 250 Black students were attending formerly all-white schools.

 

 

7. January 2013 14:11
by Tammi Sharpe
5 Comments

Growing Up & Segregation

7. January 2013 14:11 by Tammi Sharpe | 5 Comments

 

The below collection of excerpts of interviews with various foot soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement provides some glimpses into what it was like to grow up in segregation.   A couple of the interviewees reveal how children saw the police as enemies.  The anxiety created by the Klu Klux Klan through their activities including burning crosses and bombings can be gleaned from a few of the statements.  All of the statements reveal the emotional wounds and humiliation of discrimination.  

Miriam McClendon

I had always felt that there was something wrong between the races and I wasn’t really sure what that “something” was.… I didn’t like the way the black people in my community would respond when a white bill collector would come around.... They were normally very proud, aggressive men.  But, then, all of a sudden they would become rather subservient in their demeanor.

Carl Grace: 

 [T]here were several racial incidents from outside of West Field [the neighborhood where I grew up].  I remember the Fielder twins…the police from Fairfield…putting them in the car and taking them out to the city dump [where the police beat them]…until they were unrecognizable.  [T]he Klu Klux [Klan] came…on several occasions…. They would burn crosses.  I can remember a time when one guy with a hood and a rope attempted to enter in through the bedroom while I was sleeping…  I hollered out and my father came with the shotgun and ran him out…. [M]y father was the one that headed up the movement of the NAACP in West Field… He was very instrumental in voter registration and so forth.  [T]he Klu Klux [Klan] really wanted to stop him.    [Another memory concerns a childhood friend of mine, who was detained as a juvenile for] looking at a white girl…. [He was detained] for approximately ten days; [they] shaved all of his hair off and charged him with reckless eyeballs.       

Bernard Johnson

[R]ace was something that was there and we knew that it was there….[I thought] that white people were different, even superior…cause they were the ones that were primarily show in a cleaner light than we [the blacks] were shown.  We saw that through television:  Leave It to Beaver.  They would open the refrigerator and they had a ham, a carton of milk, and a dozen eggs…  Well, you open a refrigerator in my neighborhood and you can’t really recognize what’s in there…. [T]hat had an influence on me as to how I felt my life should be, but it wasn’t that way….

[Then] Emmit Till was killed and...I discovered that there was something wicked that existed in the white world.… [T]he mothers would tell [their sons] not to look at a white woman because of what happened and not to travel or go anyplace alone.... I imagine…I was [around] nine years old [when two white men brutally killed Emmit Till in Mississippi for having flirted with one of the men’s wife.] …. [T]he racial point was made with me at that time.  I knew exactly how to survive from that day on.  One of the mechanisms was not to give the white man an excuse.

John Henry Lee

We didn’t want to see the police.  It wasn’t a positive thing to see the police coming.  Something was out of hand or they were coming in to suppress something. 

Floretta Scruggs Tyson

[After the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Church] I was devastated and frightened terribly.  It was just a big shock.… I can remember that a house was bombed about two blocks from where I lived….[My father] and other fathers, went outside with guns.  I just remember him telling us don’t come outside.  I don’t know what they were looking for but everybody was upset, because… [of] what had happened earlier that day with the church being bombed [and the four little girls being killed]….It was very frightening….We didn’t know what to do.  It was so many things that were going on….incidents [were] happening… [T]hings that you hear about and my mother would tell us to be careful.  You know like, the whites were so angry.  If people would stand on the corner to catch the bus…[the whites] might be throwing rocks or anything or just shooting at you…It was just really dangerous. 

Danella Jones Bryant

[O]ne incidents…sticks out in my mind very well.  I was coming home from school one day with some of my girlfriends and were walking….[T]his pick-up truck passed by…[with] three white guys…[T]hey yelled out….[h]ey you nigger.  You niggers go home…..I was really hurt about it….It made me realize [that] things were not right in Birmingham…

I [also] remember every time I got on the bus; if it was crowded in the back and there were seats in the front, I had to stand up…. I felt that was unfair.  I remember not understanding why I couldn’t go to the Alabama Theater [which was the nicer theater in town].  I had to go to the Lyric and sit upstairs where there were rats and roaches….. 

[The police also stopped me and a friend one time.   The officer] asked my friend for his driver’s license and he showed it to him.  [The officer] …was saying something nasty to him… [H]e told him to get out of the car and that he was going to arrest him.  By this time I had gotten out of the car and I asked him, “Sir, why are you arresting him?  What have we done?  We didn’t run a red light.  We didn’t do anything?”  …[H]e pushed me to the ground…..and put a gun to my head…[saying] “I could blow your brains out and no one would even care.”….[H]e looks to his partner and he says, “Oh, this is a nigger bitch.”  So he told me to get up and run and don’t look back.  He said, “I mean you better not look back.”  And that is what I did.  I was scared…..I ran.