100th. Niagara Movement Centennial Commemoration
Oh! What a Day
L. G. Basey
Monday, August 21, 2006
On August 16, I made arrangements to go to the 100th. Centennial Commemoration of the Niagara Movement at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park on Storer College Campus on August 17. For the past few years I want to be there to cerebratie this monumental event. Oh what a day it is to stand on the site were our ancestors meet for the First Civil Rights Meeting on the soil of the good old USA in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Niagara Movement were not allowed to meet in USA, so in 1905, they had their First Meeting in Ontario, Canada, on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, and thats how the Niagara Movement got its name. The group was determined to have the next meeting in United States of America. J. R. Clifford was the secratary of West Virginia's group. He was a founding member the Niagara Movement. He was a honorable man, a man of integrity, his charater stand on principle of what God stand for. He loved his people, not only loving his own, but he loved for all mankind.
On August 17, my brother Leon Basey of Balitmore, Maryland met me at the opening of The 100th. Niagara Movement Centennial Commemoration. Leon taken about 130 photo of the opening cerebration and the Clifford family. He matted and framed a really nice piture of J. R. Clifford, W. E. B. DeBois and Mary Clifford gave it to the Clifford family. The Clifford had their family reunion to co-inced with 100th. Niagara Movement Centennial Commemoration Celebration weekend. It was an honor and previlege that I stood on The Site that our ancestors chosed to have the First Civil Rights Meeting in United States of America in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia on August 15-20, 1906. I praise the LORD that I lived to see and to a be part of the todays 100th. Niagara Movement Centennial Commemoration Celebration. This celebration is something special to me personally and that my grand-children will be proud of.
I rode the Pantran bus from Martinsburg to Harpers Ferry, I met Miss Viola Johnson, a elementary school teacher of Berkeley County, on our way down to Harpers Ferry, we had to tranfer to another bus at Martinsburg's VA Medical Center. I had an interesting conversation with Miss Johnson, she told me "I substituted for a teacher at Hedgesville school and on the first day, a white teacher come in my class and address the class and did not acknowledge me and left room the without even speaking to me. The next day, the same teacher did the same thing as the day before. The third day, she came in my classroom to address my students, I told her let go out in the hall I have something to said to you." Miss Johnson told her " You don't come in my class and address my students wilhout my permmsion." The teacher ask Miss Johnson who recommenated you, Miss Johnson said "The principale did thank you very much." The teacher apologized, but Miss Johnson said to herself "she lying, she lying, she lying." Its a shame that today we still face racism and prejudice from the political, economical, educational and religion. Miss Johnson ask me have I ever hear of a book called "The Pact." The book is about three high school young men that makes a pact to become doctors. I told her yes, that I saw them on Tony Brown's Show a few years ago. She said "I was their teacher" and she show me on page 12 of the book, that they give credit to Miss Johnson for keeping them on track.
Today was a wonderful day for the Opening of The 100th. Niagara Movement Centennial Commemoration on the campus of Storer College in Harpers Ferry, was sponsored by the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in conjunction with the Jefferson County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Harpers Ferry Historical Association. Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks opened with a prayer. Superintendent Don Campbell welcome everyone, greeted by Mayor of Harpers Ferry James Addy and the President of West Virginia NAACP James Tobert. Remarks by Deputy Secretary of the Inferior Lynn Scarlett. Interoduction of the Guest Speaker President of Jefferson County, West Virginia NAACP Gerge Rutherford. Guest Speaker U. S. Senator Robert C. Byrd. Senator Robert C. Byrd said he was a prodigal son, and said he wrong and truly was sorry for his past life, and I believe he was sincere. Who I to judge anyone? only One can do that and that's Our LORD Savior Jesus [The Anionted One] Christ [The Anionting].
Presentation of The Niagara Movement Highway Marker by Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Superintendent Don Campbell. Dr. Hooks & Senator Byrd unveiled the Highway Marker together. Our Heavenly Father and Jesus were properly "High Five" each other on the Throne, saying to the world take notice "this is My children working for the good of mankind." Benediction by Dr. Hooks. I got autograghs of Dr. Hooks, Senator Byrd, Mr. Campbell, Mr. Tobert, and Ms. Scarlett.
It wss a delight to finally see and witness the re-enacttmemt of 1898 Civil Rights Courtroom Drama of J. R. Clifford & Carrie Williams Case at Curtis Freewill Bapist Church. It was standtng room only, I was really pleased and impressed with the re-enacttmemt, its really nice to see that we all can come together as one. It was very educational for all. After the re-enacttmemt, I met J. R. Clifford's great-great-granddaughter Jennifer Neal. Neal is a teacher who lives in South Windsor, Conn., and she said she is surprised American history books don’t include Clifford’s landmark case. “It would be nice if West Virginia history was known outside of West Virginia,” she said, adding her thanks to all the people in the state’s legal system who’ve tried to spread the word about her great-great-grandfather. She also said the re-enactment was wonderful. I met Rose McDaniel, she the great-great-granddaughter of Willim Henry Clifford & Carrie Williams Clifford, William her mother & father is Evaline & William. William Clifford is son Isaac Clifford, J. R. Clifford's father. Carrie Williams Clifford was a member of the Niagara Movement, a forerunner of the NAACP. She founded the Ohio Federation of Women's Clubs. Carrie was born in Chillicothe, Ohio in 1862, but shortly after her birth the family moved to Columbus, Ohio. She married William Clifford , a African American member of the Ohio General Assembly (Legislature), they moved to Cleveland, Ohio and then to Washington DC. In addition to her political work, she was a poetess and writer. I met Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. Havard University Professor, he signed my book Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African-American Experience. W. E. B. DeBois wanted to write this book. Dr. Gates is a relative of J. R. I met Connie P. Rice and gave her a copy J. R. Clifford's home in Martinsburg on 523 W. Martin Street, I draw on it on my computer. She signed my book "Our Monongalia: A History of African Americans in Monongalia County, West Virginia." She writing a book about J. R. Clifford's life, it should be finished by next spring.
Today was also a speical day for an African American name Tiger Woods. He won his (51st.) golf tourament, his 12th. Major Golf Tournament, the PGA Wanamaker Championship in Medinah, Illinois on the same days he competed Aug. 17-20 co-inced with The 100th. Niagara Movement Centennial Commemoration Anniversary. Isn't funny how God shows us His signs and wonders. Our Heavenly Father has kept our ancestors & today's generation in His heart, and the apple of His eye [Prov. 7: 2]. Our ancestors had "Kept The Faith of GOD'S Word, praying, praising,worshiping and first of them all, they accepted Jesus [The Anionted One] Christ [The Anionting] as their Personal Savior. I believe in my heart that Our Heavenly Father placed us here in United States of Amercia "In GOD We Trusted" to be a beacon Light to spread the Word and live a Chtistain life and show the world that He is "I AM THAT I AM"1961 hayah (haw-yaw); 834 aher (ash-er'); 1961 hayah (haw-yaw); (Exod 3:14).
The day was perfect until the end of the evning. I waited on Pantran Bus to come and pick me up. I'm wheelchair bound, Pantran is my only way of transportation. and Pantran did not pick me up to return to Martinsburg 7:29 p.m. I waited on Storer College Campus on Washington Street 7: 20 p. m. until 11: 00 p.m. I finally maded it home 11:50 p. m. The next morning I called the director of Martinsburg Pantran, and she said it not her respondsiabiltiy that how I got back to Martinsburg. I thank the Harpers Ferry Park Policeman, Dave Hunter for bring me home.