Finding a New Direction

Although this short history of the African-American experience, from the beginning of human slavery hidden in the mists of time to the triumph of a historically resilient culture behind the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the mid-1960s, has not had a happy ending, the truth about what needs to be done by our society in general and by African-Americans all across this land in particular, is available and it is this – we must go “back to the future”, as Robert Zemeckis would counsel, and restore those unique characteristics that enlightened and emboldened the Founders to give us the keys to a republic that resulted in the creation of the greatest nation in history less than 75 years ago.

 The celebration of what is constant in the human spirit is the key – not the distractions of what is ephemeral, fleeting or different. Dreams, drive, determination, dedication, decency, humility, kindness, hard work and faith in God and in one’s fellow man – and condemnation of those who would deceive, destroy or exploit their fellow man – can, and have, accomplished miracles – and can do so again.

But first, a change in spirit is required. Not talk, not hope, not protest – change. Absolutely none of the behaviors engaged in by individuals, groups or organizations over the past 50 years has had any positive effect on the plight of the economically challenged. None! To continue with any of them and expect different results is not a sane alternative.

 For instance, to continue the irrational argument that dispirit arrest rates between blacks and whites is a result of widespread racism is, to be kind, clueless, yet it continues to be thoughtfully debated in the public square so that it continues to have legitimacy in the black (and progressive/liberal) communities – thereby drowning out rational debate that could help resolve the high crime – high incarceration issue.

 In point of fact, universally, police are dispatched to areas where crime is reported by citizens. Not surprisingly, citizens demand a higher police presence – patrols by foot, horse, bicycle or radio unit – in high-crime areas – factually more often than not, these are areas of low-income or subsidized housing.

 Under-educated, unskilled and unemployed citizens living in low-income or subsidized housing areas resort to crime for their survival and the survival of their families – a desperate but understandable response to extreme poverty. They naturally will commit crime close to home because there they have tactical advantage – they know the ground, they don’t stand out and can collect intelligence and plan escape routes or alibi’s easily. This leads to a concentration of crime in low-income neighborhoods.

 When the report of a crime is received by police dispatchers, they direct patrol units to respond to the reported scene. They don’t send them to a high-income neighborhood if the crime is reported in a low-income neighborhood. They go to the reported scene – no racism or discrimination is involved. If more crime is reported by citizens in low-income neighborhoods, there will be more arrests of those living in, or criminalizing those areas. In the words of a popular 1970s television crime drama; “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.”

 Discrimination does occur however, when witnesses discriminate against police by refusing to provide critical information or evidence that would enable law enforcement to arrest the criminal and make everyone more safe and secure. As long as this bigotry against the “thin Blue Line” continues, there will be inordinately high African-American male incarceration rates and more black-on-black crime – especially black-on-black homicides.

 But, according to the Black Lives Matter movement – a high police presence in high-crime areas is harassment – implying that they should leave – but then comes the charge that the police (and, by inference, the power structure of white America) don’t care because they are racists. This clever but intellectually dishonest political ploy doesn’t help and makes it harder for the two sides to work together to find a common solution.

 The ultimate tragedy of the African-American experience described above isn’t the centuries of bondage to alleged “owners” or the century of segregation under Jim Crow – it is the deliberate exploitation of late 20th Century African-Americans by their so-called champions – the PLDC, who have consciously and perniciously cast them, again by their own leaders – not the tribal chieftains of Africa but the princes and potentates of the PLDC – into a bondage of low expectations, illiterate and ignorant, and to a complete dependence upon the federal or local government and their puppet-masters – the political elite in the PLDC.

 This country was designed for success by individuals who have their own personal dreams and the will, vision, desire, drive, determination, dedication, industry, imagination, initiative, resiliency, courage, freedom and faith to make those dreams reality. The opportunities are unlimited for ALL. But, there are no shortcuts. There is only hard work and the work begins in elementary school. It is here that family, friends and faculty must all be dedicated to providing the consistent, calm, concerned environment necessary for comprehensive learning.

Those who want the children to succeed without utilizing the God-given talents that all children are born with, or take shortcuts at the expense of the children, will not help them to success. And good luck? Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

 The unfettered and unlimited spirit with which each and every child is blessed must be protected. To that end:

  • The incentives for the economically challenged in America to depend upon government largess for their standard of living must end.
  • The blame for all that ails the economically challenged on white-racism must end – focusing instead on the successful in our society who, for the most part, are doing what any American would be doing if they were prepared and saw the opportunity.
  • The culture of victim-hood of the economically challenged must end.
  • A sense of personal responsibility to educationally prepare for economic challenges must begin.
  • A profound respect for all those who serve and sacrifice for others, whether by authority or strength of spirit, must be instilled in all children.
  • This must be the last generation who is taught, in any form or forum, that white-racism is the cause of all the ills of the economically challenged. Does it exist? Of course, in all communities but, can it prevent success? Absolutely not! It must end as the catch-all excuse for poverty. We simply must become a truly colorblind society.
  • African-American leaders must head this effort for change, not exploit it!

 This will not be easy as any informed discussion about slavery in America will be received with rejection by the “bumper sticker” historignoramouses [just sound it out] that reign supreme in the activist/anarchist crowd. Witness the 2017 controversy surrounding a riot in Charlottesville, VA between “white supremacists/neo-Nazis” protesting the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and “Black Lives Matter” racial agitators/anarchists in favor of its removal.

 After being forewarned by the FBI, Charlottesville police allowed the two groups to come together – despite the futile efforts of uniformed good people in self-styled civilian “militia” units dedicated to preventing violence during protest marches (Later publicly mis-characterized and condemned by the sitting African-American President of the United States, no less) –  not surprisingly, a riot erupted concluding with a white supremacist running a car into a crowd of opponents, killing one woman.

 As a result, the PLDC went into full-throated opposition to any and all monuments to or symbols of the Confederacy – including the misnamed “Confederate flag” – claiming that these were celebrating slavery and therefore, all who opposed their efforts were racists because they must be supporters of the slavery issue which was the cause of the Civil War.

 Of course, as with any and all history, it’s not that simple. While it is absolutely true that slavery was the root cause of the Civil War, it was absolutely not the cause for which the vast majority of Southerners fought.

 African slavery was the reason that the elites of Southern society – the landed gentry, politicians, merchant class, shipping owners, financiers – those who depended upon slave labor for their privileged lifestyle – chose to have their States secede from the Union.

 In the first seventy years since this nation began to function under the Constitution, the Northern States had industrialized and had welcomed millions of immigrants into America to work in the factories, mills and assembly plants that had changed the economy in the North from primarily agricultural to also include a robust industrial sector. The South however, had remained the same slave-based agricultural, caste society it had always been – very similar to elite British society, just without the royalty – but with very little heavy industry.

 Without slavery, Southern elite society would die. So, the elites presented the issue to their public – the working classes, the wage-earners, the apprentices, dirt farmers, wagon drivers, etc. – not dependent upon slavery but upon their own labor – as an issue of “States-rights” – the “right” to own black-African slaves. Their argument was that the North was imposing an end to the “Southern way of life” – the elite’s allusion to slavery – where they had no right to do so because all States were “sovereign” unto themselves.

 When the Confederate States’ politicians voted to secede between the election of Lincoln in November 1860 and his inauguration in March 1861, when he called upon the Northern States to provide militia to restore the Union by force, the elites declared the “War of Northern Aggression” to their people.

 The Southern elites were the ones who financed, motivated and animated the Southern cause in the Civil War – sending their States’ young to fight their personal battles for their own “peculiar institution”.

 For an overwhelming number of Southern soldiers drafted into the cause, this was their motivation – right or wrong, learned or ignorant – “Northern aggression to deny rights that were rightly reserved to the States”.

 These soldiers, for the most part, had nothing to do with slaves or slavery – didn’t own slaves, didn’t depend on slaves for their livelihood, didn’t market in slaves. When they went into battle against, what for them was an invading domestic enemy, they fought for their homes, their families and their friends – not for slavery – and rallied to their battle flag – the “Stars and Bars”, not the Confederate flag.

 Also, before March 1861, there were no Southern military officers because there was no Southern Army or Navy. They were all officers of the United States Army, graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY or of the United States Navy, graduates of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, MD.

 It was only after Lincoln called for Northern mobilization – and rightly so – that military officers from the South had to decide which side they were on – the Union or the no-longer-Union. Some went, some didn’t. It was a difficult decision since the Union’s enemy was their homeland, their ancestors, their graves, their families, their friends. Some were members of the Southern gentry. Some weren’t. What would you do?

 In the end, Lincoln recognized and respected the difficulty of the life-altering choices that his Southern countrymen had to make and decided to be magnanimous in victory – simply to send them home – with their weapons, to pick up the pieces of their lives and to endure the hardships they would encounter in a land ravaged by war and in a world turned upside down.

 (Although there were military tribunals throughout the former Confederate States, only one Southerner was convicted of a war-crime as a result of the fighting – Captain Henry Wirz, Commander of the prisoner-of-war camp at Andersonville, GA, who was executed for crimes against the thousands of Union troops who died on his watch.)

 Fifty years after the Battle of Gettysburg – the turning point of the war – veterans from both sides met in reconciliation at the famous battle site in Pennsylvania to renew their commitment to the Union, amongst the memorials to North and South alike and under the gaze of General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, whose legendary infantry regiment, the 20th Maine – out of ammunition and with fixed bayonets – had held the end of the Union line on the second day at Gettysburg and thereby had saved the Union and who was selected by General Grant to receive the sword of surrender from General Lee at Appomattox.

 These – now reviled – monuments around the nation were all dedicated in the years following the Civil War by people on both sides who wished to honor the sacrifices – physical, emotional and psychological – of those called to serve on both sides because they understood the nature of the sacrifice – the heartache of brothers fighting brothers, fathers fighting sons, families torn apart – they understood what those who did the fighting actually fought for and they understood the importance of reconciliation.

 They were not historignoramouses. They were history’s survivors – and deserving of our respect for the magnanimity they showed to all who experienced those years of hell-on-earth in America.

 These monuments are important for our nation’s survival because they honor – not slavery – but the spirit of defending home and hearth, fields and forests of youth, family, loved ones and comrades in the line – the very qualities that we need from ALL Americans today as we are invaded by virtual armies of illegals intent upon controlling and exploiting our communities and preying on our citizens.

 Imagine the statue of Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy, in Richmond, VA. If he were alive today, what would he be thinking about?

  • Certainly not the arrogance of 1861 but, perhaps it would be the gruesome fates of the more than 300,000 dead soldiers and sailors from the Confederate states – the equivalent of more than 3 million dead today.
  • Perhaps about an appreciation of how far we came as a society in the century since the Civil War – until latter-day Confederates surreptitiously began to take the reins of power and divide the nation once again – not over slavery or segregation – but over another form of tyranny – a tyranny of the minority – new elites seeking power for its own sake.

    Now, Mr. Davis, they are coming for you and the lessons you can teach new generations about the arrogance of power and the cost of division.

    What could African-Americans be thinking as they view Davis’ statue?

  • Perhaps about the incomprehensible Dred Scott Supreme Court decision in 1857 that was probably the last chance to avoid civil war.
  • Perhaps about missed opportunities during Reconstruction when freedmen could have been assisted by Northern officials in establishing a lasting reconciliation with non-elite, working-class whites as they both struggled to build new lives in the war-ravaged South.
  • Perhaps about overcoming the struggles during the “Jim Crow” era and the success of the Civil Rights Movement after the entire nation witnessed the police dogs and water cannon as the pictures splashed across their TV screens in the late 1950’s and early ‘60s.
  • Perhaps about reaching true equality under the law, and thus fulfilling the Constitutional promise, with the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act in the mid-60s.
  • Perhaps about the missed opportunities when they also lost their Great Emancipator, Martin Luther King, to an assassin’s bullet and the failure-of-character of the following generations of African-American leadership which lead to the decimation of the African-American community – an unintended consequence of the Great Society.
  • Perhaps the myriad of contributions to American society by African-Americans in all fields of endeavor from science to the arts, from military service to professional sports, from courage to character – despite the obstacles imposed by Southern Democrats during “Jim Crow” and by Democrat “racial ambulance chasers” after the death of Dr. King.

    Certainly, a mixture of success and failure, joy and sorrow, struggle and achievement – and of pride – for a People of unyielding determination to join the American parade.

    Since all of the people who had any experience of the Civil War have now passed on, what is the importance of any of these monuments today? The answer is that they are here to teach us and future generations about the folly that ended in such long lasting personal and civic devastation.

  • They are a reminder of the cost of a callous disregard for the sanctity of all human life and the abomination of believing that one man can, and should, own another man and command his life under penalty of death.
  • They are a reminder of the cost of unmitigated greed that would make it acceptable to send others to defend one’s own lifestyle knowing full well that they surely would pay for your debt with their lives.
  • They are a reminder of the cost of hate that has kept this nation divided for the last 150 years since the Civil War ended and has resulted in hundreds of thousands of violent deaths by and among those the war was fought to save.
  • They are to remind us that racial animus should have ended at Appomattox in 1865 or in Washington, DC in 1965 or on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009, and require us to ask the question: Why hasn’t it?

 These lessons will never be learned by looking at a flower bed where one of these monuments once stood.

Unfortunately, all of this is lost in the din of the protestors and their unwavering conviction that if you tell a lie enough times, it becomes the truth.

 But, woe be to the nation that destroys its history because history itself has shown that a people who have forsaken an understanding of their past have also destroyed their future.

 History is not the names, places and dates, it is in the context of these facts. Destroy the context – destroy the history. History is not written just by the victors, it is written by all the actors. More often than not, history is destroyed by the victors. Here, it is being destroyed by the those who cannot compete on the field of facts and therefore have decided to destroy the history and write their own “fictional truth”.  In the end, fictional truth is no more than a lie.

The reconciliation after the Civil War, although it took decades to achieve, cemented its history and is reflected in these monuments and symbols in their context. The PLDC is now attempting to destroy that history, that context, because it presents a prologue to what their “new confederacy”, the Progressive Liberal Democrat Confederacy, will visit – or revisit – upon America.

(And, we have not even mentioned that all the Confederate monuments honor – wait for it – Democrats! Could this be a contrived controversy to rid history of that fact? Hmmmmm???)

 So, more than 50 years after Dr. Martin Luther King , Jr. called for a colorblind society, the PLDC is still battling to keep skin color at the center of the political debate. To wit, even with war against the political establishment raging from both ends of the political spectrum, the uber-liberal, self-styled cultural guru and Starbucks CEO nonsensically proclaims:

 “Here’s my belief: Growing up, there was a term called ‘color blind,’ which described a learning behavior of pretending not to notice race — that doesn’t even make sense,” said Kevin Johnson. “So today we are starting a new journey, talking about race directly — what my friend and Starbucks board member … calls being ‘color brave.’”

 It is up to us – the People waging the war against the political establishment and the myopic, color-blinded  drivel expressed above – to protect and provide the context and to generate the change in direction necessary to restore the American dream to all Americans by losing the hyphen separating us all. If we can’t do it for ourselves, at least do it for our children.

Next time: Immigration to Assimilation, or Not

Advertisements

Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama

Obama stated that he was aware of Pastor Wright’s controversial comments, and had personally heard “remarks that could be considered controversial” in Wright’s church, but denied having heard the particular inflammatory statements that were widely televised during the campaign. Obama was specifically asked by Bill O’Reilly, then of FoxNewsif Reverend Wright had said white people were bad, to which Obama replied that he hadn’t. But, in his book Dreams From My Father, Obama had quoted Reverend Wright as saying in a sermon “It’s this world, where cruise ships throw away more food in a day than most residents of Port-au-Prince see in a year, where white folks’ greed runs a world in need.”

Former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich stated: “The fact is, you have a president who for years went to a church whose pastor said stunningly hateful things about Americans,” Gingrich said. “The President explains he didn’t hear any of them. Okay? And we all gave him a pass. He gave a great speech in Philadelphia as a candidate. We said, okay, we got it.”

On March 8, 2008, ABC News [which was also trying to advance the campaign of Hillary Clinton] aired a report that included excerpts of Wright’s sermons against racism. In the most controversial video, which was played on network and cable news, Wright exhorted blacks to reject the government that had treated them so badly.

Following the news reports, Obama called Wright’s views “completely unacceptable and inexcusable.” Wright resigned from a committee of African-American clergy who supported Obama. The candidate continued to distance himself from Wright, but the story grew and on March 18, Obama delivered an extended speech on race in America at Independence Hall in Philadelphia (the speech referenced by Gingrich in his comments).

According to the late author Christopher Hitchens [no favorite of conservatives, in fact, an atheist], “Barack Obama knew that he would become answerable for his revolting choice of a family priest. But never mind that; the astonishing thing is that it’s at least 11 months since the Rev. Jeremiah Wright himself has known precisely the same thing. “If Barack gets past the primary,” he said to The New York Times , “…he might have to publicly distance himself from me. I said it to Barack personally, and he said yeah, that might have to happen.”

“Pause just for a moment, if only to admire the sheer calculating self-confidence of this. Obama has long known perfectly well, in other words, that he’d one day have to put some daylight between himself and a bigmouth Farrakhan fan. But he felt he needed his South Side Chicago “base” in the meantime. So he coldly decided to double-cross that bridge when he came to it. And now we are all supposed to marvel at the silky success of the maneuver.”

“You often hear it said, of some political or other opportunist, that he would sell his own grandmother if it would suit his interests. But you seldom, if ever, see this notorious transaction actually being performed, which is why I am slightly surprised that Obama got away with it so easily.”

“Looking for a moral equivalent to a professional demagogue who thinks that AIDS and drugs are the result of a conspiracy by the white man, Obama settled on an 85-year-old lady named Madelyn Dunham, who spent a good deal of her youth helping to raise him and who now lives alone and unwell in a condo in Honolulu. It would be interesting to know whether her charismatic grandson made her aware that he was about to touch her with his grace and make her famous in this way. By sheer good fortune, she, too, could be a part of it all and serve her turn in the great enhancement.”

“This flabbergasting process, made up of glibness and ruthlessness in equal proportions, rolls on unstoppably with a phalanx of reporters and men of the cloth as its accomplices. Look at the accepted choice of words for the ravings of Jeremiah Wright: 

 Controversial, incendiary, inflammatory. These are adjectives that might have been – and were – applied to many eloquent speakers of the early civil rights movement. But is it “inflammatory” to say that AIDS and drugs are wrecking the black community because the white power structure wishes it? No. Nor is it “controversial.” It is wicked and stupid and false to say such a thing. And it not unimportantly negates everything that Obama says he stands for by way of advocating dignity and responsibility over the sick cults of paranoia and victimhood.

Where are hatred and tribalism and ignorance most commonly incubated, and from which platform is it most commonly yelled? If you answered, “the churches” and “the pulpits”, you got both answers right. The Ku Klux Klan (originally a Protestant identity movement, as many people prefer to forget) and the Nation of Islam (a black sectarian mutation of Koranic teaching) may be weak these days, but bigotry of all sorts is freely available, and openly inculcated into children, by any otherwise unemployable dirt bag who can perform the easy feat of putting Reverend in front of his name.

If you think Jeremiah Wright is gruesome, wait until you get a load of the next Chicago “Reverend,” one James Meeks, another South Side horror show with a special sideline in the baiting of homosexuals. He, too, has been an Obama supporter, and his church has been an occasional recipient of Obama’s patronage. And perhaps he, too, can hope to be called “controversial” for his use of the term house nigger to describe those he doesn’t like and for his view that it was “the Hollywood Jews” who brought us Brokeback  Mountain.

I assume you all have your copies of The Audacity of Hope in paperback breviary form. If you turn to the chapter entitled “Faith,” beginning on Page 195, and read as far as Page 208, I think that even if you don’t concur with my reading, you may suspect that I am onto something. In these pages, Sen. Obama is telling us that he doesn’t really have any profound religious belief, but that in his early Chicago days he felt he needed to acquire some spiritual “street cred.”

“The most excruciatingly embarrassing endorsement of this same viewpoint came from Abigail Thernstrom at National Review Online. Overcome by “the speech” that the ‘divine one’ had given in Philadelphia, she urged us to be understanding. “Obama’s description of the parishioners in his church gave white listeners a glimpse of a world of faith (with ‘raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor … dancing, clapping, screaming, and shouting’) that has been the primary means of black survival and uplift.” A glimpse, huh? What the hell next? A tribute to the African-American sense of rhythm?

To have accepted Obama’s smooth apologetics is to have lowered one’s own pre-existing standards for what might constitute a post-racial or a post-racist future. It is to have put that quite sober and realistic hope, meanwhile, into untrustworthy and unscrupulous hands. And it is to have done this, furthermore, in the service of blind faith. Mark my words: This disappointment is only the first of many that are still to come.” Amen!

How prophetic of Mr. Hitchens.

In fact, it is much worse. Consider an analysis of the Obama – Wright connection more coherently. Obama attended Wright’s church and was exposed to his anti-American diatribes for over twenty years. Wright took on the role of being Obama’s spiritual adviser. Obama volunteered that Wright first exposed him to Christianity – which begs the question: What faith did he identify with before meeting Wright?

During his administration, there is no doubt that Obama has been consistent in his efforts to diminish the power and influence of the United States around the world by withdrawing from continuing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan without resolution, declining to get involved, even administratively, in new areas of low-level conflict, negotiating with himself in the face of terrorist threats and reducing the size and strength of the American military.

Why would someone do this unless they believed that such influence has been harmful to the world? Where would someone get such a historically ignorant idea, especially someone with almost no experience in foreign affairs and no apparent concentration on world and American history in their academic background? Could being exposed to the diatribes of Jeremiah Wright for over twenty years have had an influence on his thinking about matters of state – especially where he had little or no opportunity to develop an historically tenable templet with which to judge Wright’s assessment of world and American history?

Of course it could – and probably did. This tendency is not only naïve; it is dangerous for our continued survival as an independent nation! It is also a perfect model for what the PLDC is doing to generation after generation of American public-school children.

So, let us summarize this lengthy section in order to be clear on the lessons of factual history.

ALL civilizations, cultures, races and religions are culpable for the human sin of slavery! Whatever the political regime – whether tribe, federation, city-state, republic, kingdom, empire, parliament, democracy or whatever method – white, black, brown, red or yellow skinned human beings have created to order their world, slavery has been part of it. Each generation, each in its own way, bought and sold, exploited and abused other human beings, as a matter of course, or condoned those who did. Uniquely, the blood of the innocent is on ALL of our hands as a species – so stop the “blame game”.

However, it was the actions of an anti-Semitic but idealistic Catholic priest in the backwaters of Christianity that began a movement that freed Europeans from the Church’s strangulation of thought that enabled the Enlightenment and moved a Judeo-Christian Western Civilization in general, and the English speaking peoples in particular, to consider the end of human trafficking for slavery.

Perhaps because the English had a major role in making slavery in the Western Hemisphere a racial enterprise, rather than a human-being enterprise, England, which had been the most active of the modern states in the trafficking of human beings, passed laws in the latter decades of the 18th Century to outlaw slavery in the Empire. Then the United States included the means to end the institution in the Union in its founding document – first by ending the importation of slaves by 1808 and then by the provision which allowed any of the provisions of the Constitution to be amended – which actually happened. Other nations followed, some quickly, some more slowly.

The national desire to end slavery moved many white and black Americans – the Abolitionists – to work tirelessly for decades after the founding to end slavery in this country. But, even the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives in the cause during the Civil War did not soften the hearts off some – specifically, the Democrat Party – and it took another 100 years of struggle by blacks and whites together to finally provide full legal equality of opportunity to all citizens.

Even then, the movement for Constitutional equality was hijacked by black Democrat political opportunists, flim-flam men, racial agitators, pseudo-intellectual entertainers, charlatans who hide behind the vestments and others who make a living by fomenting anger between the races to, once again, enslave their people – this time in the economic slavery of low expectations and a life of dependency upon government handouts without personal accountability or responsibility, determination and hard work – all hallmarks of success in America.

None of this, of course, is to say that racism doesn’t exist. It does, in every community and in every human being. It is a vestige of the most basic of animal instincts – survival. With dependence upon our eyesight for safety and sustenance, it’s not hard to imagine the visual experiences at the dawn of human consciousness, that led to the belief that, “If it looks different from me, then it will probably kill me and eat me.”

As humans organized into societies and competition for scarce resources became commerce – introducing trade with different peoples led to the realization that differences could be non-threatening. Unfortunately, as societies grew and competition for resources became more organized, competition produced conflict which  produced conquest so that exploitation of, rather than cooperation with, others became commonplace – even universal.

In the modern age, enlightened societies have encouraged tolerance and acceptance for all peoples, but human beings still struggle with the unknown or unfamiliar –  with prejudice and occasional racism being the last bastion of the primitive human instinct for advantage or survival – regardless of whether the person is white, black, brown, red or yellow.

But charges of racism – playing the “race card” – has become an epidemic in America. It is the prime example of how the PLDC has weaponized the social agenda. In fact, the race card is a cheap shot, a sucker punch for an alleged action against a person of color by a white person. It is a lazy, ignorant, cowardly and intellectually dishonest call to action against an imaginary foe – the entire white community. In fact, most instances of playing the race card are made by people who cannot muster a coherent argument so, instead, they appeal to people’s emotions, their “feelings” – usually anger.

So, as the terms racism and prejudice are raised in the public square about the unfairness of economic stratification in the modern age, perhaps the issue is not just about racism or prejudice but also about human nature and the will to survive through wits and work. When the Bible quotes Christ as saying, “Are we not our brother’s keeper?”, He meant help to those who cannot help themselves, not handouts to those who would rather not.

One of my Tennessee neighbors said, “The greatest economic and social welfare programs of all time are self-reliance and personal responsibility.” If we taught our children nothing else in school, these two lessons would solve virtually all of our societal and cultural problems, this entire treatise would be unnecessary and I could do a lot more fishin’.

In retrospect, the PLDC and leaders like Elijah Mohammad, Malcolm X, Jackson, Sharpton, Farrakhan, Wright and Obama could not have done any more damage to the African-American community in the last 50 years had they kidnapped young black children from their homes and turned them into “child-soldiers” to make war on their neighbors – like the children forced to fight for Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.

 Kony is accused of kidnapping more than 70,000 children who may have killed more than 200,000 other Africans. In the past 50 years in America, as many as 100,000 African-Americans have been killed by other African-Americans. Every one of these occurrences destroys families and perpetuates the carnage that plagues the African-American community.

 Several organizations have been founded to raise awareness and eventually end this scourge on the children of Central Africa. One is Invisible Children, founded by Jason Russell, a film school graduate from the University of Southern California. On a church mission to Uganda with family and friends from El Cajon, CA., he discovered Joseph Kony and his “army” of children and came home determined to do something about it. His documentary, first shown to musical-theater performers of the Christian Youth Theater in San Diego, has reached millions.

And yet, the PLDC has failed to learn a single lesson from the failures of the War on Poverty and the acceptance of leaders like Mohammad, Malcolm, Jackson, Sharpton, Farrakhan, Wright and Obama.

 In the fall of 2015, students at the University of Missouri, led by graduate student Jonathan Butler and supported by prominent student-athletes, grabbed national headlines after he embarked on a seven-day hunger strike that forced the State to fire University of Missouri’s president and chancellor for insensitivity to racial issues on the Columbia, Missouri campus. Since then, he’s gone on a speaking tour, represented by celebrity talent booker, All American Speakers.

 “[The] Butler did it,” gushed Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) President Vernon Howard, introducing the graduate student as he made the keynote speech at the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in January 2016. Since November 2015, Butler has made half-a-dozen speeches, including addresses at the law schools of Harvard and Duke Universities

.Perhaps these institutions should have done their research before portraying Butler as a social-justice hero. Internet entity Heat Street’s review of Butler’s online presence, as well as videos reviewed exclusively by the publication, reveal he’s chronically stolen items, denigrated low-income workers, and made troubling comments about women and drugs.

Most of the coverage of the events of last fall [2015] focused on claims of pervasive racism at the university, as well as administrators’ struggle to address the demands of the student organization, ConcernedStudent1950. But an investigation has uncovered not only past controversial statements by Butler but also other dimensions to the unrest, including pervasive fears about safety on campus, as well as massive backlash from donors, sports fans and alumni.

Last fall, other student activists and social-justice warriors on campus began looking into Butler’s background because he hadn’t been involved in activism at the University of Missouri previously, and they had concerns about his speaking for everyone. Now that things on the campus have settled down, they’ve provided the information they found to Heat Street.

In a blog post from August 2011, titled “My Summer Breakfast Experience,” Butler describes how, for 61 days, he swung by a hotel before work and “decided to indulge myself with ‘free’ breakfast items.” Butler describes trying to get caught stealing food, making goofy faces in the camera and making sure staff got a good look at his face.

His disdain for low-income Americans is also apparent in another blog post, from July 2011, that was written about his visit to a Subway sandwich shop. Butler describes how he “stormed up to the counter inpatient [sic] and indecisive,” further detailing rude behavior to the worker. He describes watching the worker, “a grumpy older gentleman, about 70-75 years old,” making his sandwich.”

Some videos published by Butler, also in 2011, are equally controversial. In one, nearly 15 minutes long that was published to YouTube in March 2011, Butler says he wants to “address the issue—a very important issue—of XX versus XY. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, male and female: which is better.” Butler and a guest continued to discuss the problem of “ratchet women,” who flirt and generally are not well-behaved, by their reckoning.

“So you’re saying, she jumps from male to male,” Butler says, continuing: “So this would be like in the kingdom, the wild kingdom, where they’re trying to get their prey.” At one point, Butler asks his guest: “So what he’s saying is that us as men, we don’t have issues, it’s all women, obviously, because what do we do? We just eat, sleep, work, we’re the backbone. Is that what you’re saying? … You’re saying all women are trash, is that what you’re saying?” Another 9-minute video, posted to YouTube in July 2011, features Butler singing about cooking crack cocaine with his love interest.

 Butler, who grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, is the son of a railroad executive whose compensation in 2014 was $8.4 million, according to regulatory filings. So, here is the new face of the race-hustler crowd. Jesse, the godfather of race-hustling, must be so proud – although I can’t be so sure about Butler’s own father.

 The real tragedy is that millions of African-Americans have been exposed to this self-serving charlatan and his hypocritical influence on their view of race relations in America cannot be undone. By being exposed to only half of the story, their opinion is warped by half-truth and innuendo. This sets back the cause. That’s the continuing tragedy – now fifty years in the making.

Unfortunately, the PLDC doesn’t see things this way and keeps piling garbage on top of garbage. To wit:

The “Black Lives Matter” movement,” grew out of the rioting and looting that plagued the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, MO in 2014 after a white police officer justifiably shot and unfortunately killed a black man who, during a police stop, had attacked him in his police car and had tried to take his firearm and, potentially, kill him with it.

 The resulting inaccurate and unverified reporting by press and media – including widespread fallacious and unprofessional reporting that the victim was shot as he knelt down on the street with his arms raised over his head, pleading: “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot!” – had inflamed the African-American citizenry to the point of rioting and looting – again, why is looting relevant or necessary?

 “According to columnist Perry Chiaramonte, a “Black Lives Matter” leader who landed a teaching gig at Yale University and delivered a lecture recently on the historical merits of looting as a form of protest, backing up his lesson with required reading that puts modern-day marauders on par with the patriots behind the Boston Tea Party. DeRay McKesson, was hired by the Ivy League institution’s divinity school to lecture for two days on “Transformational Leadership in the “Black Lives Matter Movement”.

 The mystifying ideological claim that “looting is violent and non-political is one that has been carefully produced by the ruling class because it is precisely the violent maintenance of property which is both the basis and end of their power,” reads the August 2014 post from the literary magazine The New Inquiry entitled  “In Defense of Looting“. “On a less abstract level there is a practical and tactical benefit to looting. Whenever people worry about looting, there is an implicit sense that the looter must necessarily be acting selfishly, ‘opportunistically,’ and in excess.”

 McKesson appears to have veered off his syllabus for the lesson, which prompted some critics to offer a reminder that looting does indeed have innocent victims. “There is zero justification for stealing private property and destroying a family’s livelihood – which is what occurred countless times in Ferguson, Baltimore, and elsewhere – but that’s apparently what passes as an example of ‘transformational leadership’ at the Yale Divinity School,” said Kyle Olson, founder of EAGnews.org, a blog that focuses on education reform.

 “The article in question was not on the syllabus,” a Yale Divinity School official confirmed. “But the instructor did send out some supplemental readings later in the process, including that particular article. We believe it’s important for students to examine a wide range of viewpoints and ideas.”

 McKesson last worked in the Minneapolis public school system as a human resources administrator. According to his LinkedIn profile, his only teaching experience was between May 2007 and June 2009, when he was a middle school math teacher. McKesson defended the lesson when asked about it by FoxNews.com. “The relationship and tension between protest and property destruction is something that America has grappled with since the Revolutionary War & the Boston Tea Party,” he said via Twitter. “The reading … allowed us to explore all sides of the American historical relationships and tensions present in protest.”

 [Need I point out that the Boston Tea Party was a political action conducted by the leaders of a protest over the extra-constitutional conduct of the British monarchy and Parliament with respect to taxes being placed on imported tea. Looting as part of the Black Lives Matter movement is activity totally unrelated to whatever extra-constitutional conduct (shooting unarmed black men by police) that local, State or federal authorities are accused of and, is conducted by random individuals who have no relationship to the leaders of the movement.]

 The Yale Divinity School official told FoxNews.com he could not comment on the seminar but did provide a copy of the syllabus for McKesson’s section of the two-day intensive course. Readings for the course included Ta-Nehisi Coates’s book “Between the World and Me”, a Huffington Post article titled “How The Black Lives Matter Movement Changed the Church,” the book “Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfilled Hopes for Racial Reform” by author Derrick Bell; Leah Gunning Francis’ book “Ferguson & Faith: Sparking Leadership and Awakening Community,” and a New York Times article titled “Our Demand Is Simple: Stop Killing Us.”

 News of the reading material, which was not included on the syllabus, first surfaced during a live tweet of the seminar from an attendee. “The school does not endorse all the positions of the many speakers who come here each year,” the school official said of the course material. He also pointed out that school officials in attendance relayed to him that there was no one in the room who spoke out in favor of looting when the article was being discussed. [Well, thank the Lord for that.]

 McKesson’s credentials and the new coursework make it unlikely students at the vaunted New Haven, CT. school are getting their money’s worth, said Olson. “It’s surprising to me students would pay tuition – and likely incur much of that in debt – and be fed a line that crime pays, other people are to blame for one’s own problems, and that the system is rigged in favor of white people,” Olson said. “None of this propaganda will fix one broken family, heal one fatherless family or help one more child learn how to read and become a productive citizen,” he added.

 Incidently, the Ferguson police officer was later credited with a justified shooting by local, state and federal investigations – the latter overseen by the United States Attorney-General, Eric Holder, himself a hyper-partisan, Democrat African-American.

This, of course, did nothing to slow down the lies being propagated by “Black Lives Matter”.

Next time: Chaos from the community to the entire country.

The Death of the Black Community

It is amazing that most progressive/liberals, who treat Darwin’s theory of evolution as religious dogma, also seem to believe that there is no such thing as “human nature.”  They also seem to believe that “nurture” (which presumably includes exhortation from government bureaucrats) trumps “nature.” Unfortunately for progressive programs like those making up the War on Poverty, there is an essential human nature that we all share, and humans respond predictably to the incentives present in the environment around them.

“Children are programmed by evolution to rebel against their parents’ control, and to seek to be independent – an instinct necessary for the survival of the species in all fauna. Prior to the welfare state, the only way for girls to escape the authority of their parents was to become economically self-sufficient, by getting a job and/or getting married.

The progressive welfare state, especially after it was expanded by the War on Poverty, provided a third option for teenage girls seeking to get away from their parents’ control – just have a baby.  As soon as a young, unmarried girl had a baby, she officially became a “poor family,” and the government would force taxpayers to support her and her baby.

Unfortunately, the damage to poor communities was done long before the half-hearted welfare reforms of 1996.  Once the number of responsible fathers in a community falls below a certain level, the adults lose control of the adolescent males. Gangs take over the streets, and gang values (mainly, getting “respect,” by violence if necessary – an evil and perverse definition of respect, to be sure) become established among the young males.

Urban crime rates rose rapidly from the 1960s through the early 1990s, at which point the public got angry, rebelled against soft-on-crime progressives, elected conservatives who cracked down hard on criminals. [Aggressive New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani is the most prominent example. During his tenure, the city experienced a 66% reduction in murders, a 72% decline in shootings and a 56% decline in the FBI Crime index compared to the national average of 16%, mostly by removing repeat offenders from the streets!] The result was an exploding prison population, with the majority of those incarcerated being young, fatherless males – black and white alike. The consequence of adapting to the expanded welfare state has been no less devastating for poor young men than it has been for poor young women.

The incarceration rate of black males is over six times higher than that of white males, with a rate of 4,749 per 100,000 US residents. Black youths, who make up 16% of the youth population, accounted for 52% of juvenile violent crime arrests, including 58.5% of youth arrests for homicide and 67% for robbery. Black youths were over represented in all offense categories except DUI, liquor law violations and drunkenness.

 Nearly 2000 young people (mostly minority – ages 17-24) are injured by assaults [in and around their own neighborhoods] every day! Blacks accounted for 52.5% of homicide offenders from 1980 to 2008, with whites at 45.3% and “Other” 2.2%. The offending rate for blacks was almost 8 times higher than whites (per 100,000), and the victim rate 6 times higher (per 100,000). Most murders were intra-racial, with 84% of white homicide victims murdered by whites, and 93% of black victims murdered by blacks.”

In 1950, the life-plan for young men was, “Get a job, make money, get married, and support a family.”  The War on Poverty changed this to, “Just show up. Don’t worry, you won’t have to support the children that you might father – the government will force taxpayers to do that.  In fact, you might even be able to live off the women and children that are living off the welfare state.”

We are all the descendants of the early human males who had the most surviving children. Given human nature, a male’s ideal reproductive strategy is to have sex with as many women as he can, and sire as many children as he can, while (somehow) getting other people to support his children, so that they will survive to reproduce and he can spend his efforts exclusively on reproductive strategies.

Because an attempt by one male to implement this ideal reproductive strategy in a civilized society conflicts with the interests of the mothers of his children (who want him to stick around and help raise them), and with the interests of the other males (who could get stuck having to support children that are not their own), Western Civilization evolved strong defenses against this strategy. It’s called marriage – one male, one female in a committed relationship centered on the rearing of their children into responsible adults able to rear their own children and contribute positively to a vibrant and growing society.

The War on Poverty changed this too.  The expanded welfare state transferred the burden of supporting the offspring of culturally-irresponsible males from family members and/or the local community to a diffuse group of taxpayers.  This burden-shifting benefited irresponsible males in an evolutionary biological sense, but there were also huge costs to society.

As the dependent underclass expanded and required more taxes to be paid by the working classes, struggling middle-class families were increasingly forced to delay having their own children, and to have fewer of them.  This was because the middle-class not only had to pay the taxes required to support the welfare state, but also found itself forced to pay for private schools, or to bid for expensive housing in school districts where their children would not be exposed to the social pathologies of the increasingly chaotic underclass.

None of this was exclusively related to race.  The black middle-class fled Detroit for exactly the same reasons as the white middle-class fled Nashville.  Even our Presidents, who presumably are not a racist, live in the heart of Washington, DC, but send their kids to private schools.  And, as Charles Murray has documented in his book, Coming Apart, underclass social pathologies are also taking hold among poor whites, Hispanics and other minorities besides the African-American community.

“Compounding the damage done by the welfare state is the long-term shift in the “gender ratio”, which is the number of adult males per 100 adult females. Western civilization as we know it, evolved during a time when women were in relatively short supply, due mainly to death in childbirth. Due to improving, though still primitive, medical standards, from 1790 to 1910, the gender ratio in the U.S. hovered around 104 [104 males to every 100 females]. Around 1910, medical science began to get a handle on death in childbirth, and the gender ratio began falling.  It hit 100 in 1945 and bottomed out at about 95 in 1970.

The decline in the gender ratio broke the “female sex cartel,” which had permitted women to demand marriage and fidelity as the price of dependable sex. Today, only men who want to get married for reasons other than sex get married.  Lots of college-educated men seem to want to be married, but it appears that a much lower percentage of high school dropout males are looking to wed. This may be because those men feel that they have little to offer to a family, or because today’s welfare state strongly discourages low-income people from marrying each other.

The impact of the shift in the national gender ratio has been amplified in poor communities by mass incarceration. This has produced extremely low gender ratios in areas of concentrated poverty.  It does little good to promote marriage as a solution to poverty, if there are no marriageable [meaning, personally responsible] men.

[More importantly], Americans needs to understand that poor women are getting married. They are marrying the welfare state, in many cases “until death do us part.” As the welfare state expanded, marriage stagnated and single parenthood soared. There has been no significant increase in the number of married-couple families with children (both poor and non-poor) in the U.S. since 1965! Coincidence?

By contrast, the number of single-parent families with children has skyrocketed by nearly 10 million, rising from 3.3 million such families in 1965 to 13.2 million in 2012 – a 400% increase. Since single-parent families are roughly four times more likely than married-couple families to lack self-sufficiency [and to be “officially” poor by American political standards], this unraveling of family structure has exerted a powerful downward pull against self-sufficiency and substantially boosted the official child-poverty rate.

Since the beginning of the War on Poverty, the number of single-parent families in official poverty (or lacking self-sufficiency) has more than tripled, increasing from 1.6 million in 1965 to 4.8 million today. When the War on Poverty began, 36 percent of poor families with children were headed by single parents; today, the figure is 68 percent – and 75 percent among African-American families. During the Harlem Renaissance, less than 30 percent of African-American families were headed by a single-parent!

Over 100 million people, about one third of the U.S. population, received aid from at least one welfare program at an average cost of $9,000 per recipient in 2013. If converted into cash, current means-tested spending is five times the amount needed to eliminate all poverty in the U.S. in counting family “income.” The federal government currently runs more than 80 means-tested welfare programs. Qualifying families can now have all of their children’s meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner provided free by the state at their public schools during the school year – and also during vacation periods – in a growing number of States.

For most Americans, the word “poverty” means significant material deprivation, an inability to provide a family with adequate nutritious food, reasonable shelter and clothing. But only a small portion of the more than 40 million people labeled as poor by the Census fit that description. The media frequently and simplistically associate the idea of poverty with being homeless.

This whole area of government social-engineering is called the “Welfare–Poverty Paradox”. Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society has become the “Guns and Grievance Society”.

So here we sit, no closer to a color-blind, economically self-sufficient society than we were fifty years ago. Legislative solutions have proven to be more detrimental than beneficial and the popularly described state of poverty in America today is, in fact, a big, fat lie! Pun intended.

Worse than that, after fifty years of utter dependence upon government for the most basic of life’s necessities, the African-American community has now arrived at the point where, even if all obstacles to economic success were eliminated for everyone, most would be unprepared to enter the greater society as non-dependent citizens and take full advantage of opportunities because they lack access to the truth, education, experience and expertise in the basic founding principle of America – the individual, independent initiative to “risk” success – the very opposite of their experience which has been, for half a century, to have everything securely provided by government – risk free.

Make no mistake, there are inner-city “angels among us” who work tirelessly with the poor in every community to help those who are the new pioneers – those poor and disadvantaged with a spirit of their own “manifest destiny”, like that which animated the founding generation for whom the Constitution was written – and who possess the American spirit that is not willing to accept the slavery of a state sponsored cradle-to-grave “umbilical cord” – in order to strike out on their own without the stifling support of big government?

They certainly don’t come from the likes of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright – pastor for 20 years to the future President of the United States and the standard bearer for all that is wrong with the leadership of the black community in AmericaReverend Jeremiah Wright served as pastor of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ from 1972 to February of 2008, where he met young Barack Obama and his family, according to The New York Times.

“The two men developed a close relationship, and Wright took on the role of being Obama’s spiritual adviser, the Christian Science Monitor reported. The Reverend also officiated the Obamas’ wedding and baptized their children Sasha and Malia, according to the Monitor. The couple attended Trinity United Church of Christ where Wright preached.

Obama also credits one of Wright’s sermons, “The Audacity of Hope,” with inspiring his connection to his Christian faith, the Times reported, so much so that the President adopted the phrase for the title of his second book. This sermon also was the source for themes of Obama’s 2004 keynote address to the Democratic National Convention. 

Barack Obama first met Wright in the late 1980s, while he was working as a community organizer in Chicago before attending Harvard Law School.  Wright was scheduled to give the public invocation before Obama’s presidential announcement, but Obama withdrew the invitation the night before the event. Wright wrote a rebuttal letter to the editor disputing the characterization of the account as reported in an article in The New York Times.

In 2007, Wright was appointed to Barack Obama’s African American Religious Leadership Committee, a group of over 170 national black religious leaders who supported Obama’s bid for the Democratic nomination. However, it was announced in March 2008 that Wright was no longer serving as a member of this group. Wright’s racially charged sermons made him a controversial figure during the 2008 campaign, causing Obama to seek some distance from the Reverend [he had formerly relied upon for spiritual and political guidance].

Around mid-March in 2008, some of Wright’s more extreme statements began circulating in the news, including him referring to the United States as the “U.S. of K.K.K. A.” and arguing that the September 11 terrorist attacks stemmed from America’s corrupted foreign policy, The New York Times [at that time, collaborating with the candidacy of Hillary Clinton for President] reported.

On May 31, 2008, Barack and Michelle Obama announced that [after more than 20 years of listening to Reverend Wright preach] they had withdrawn their membership in Trinity United Church of Christ, stating that “Our relations with Trinity have been strained by the divisive statements of Reverend Wright, which sharply conflict with our own views” [views, of course, which he had been espousing for the 20 years they had known him].

Most of the controversial excerpts that gained national attention in March 2008 were taken from two sermons: one titled “The Day of Jerusalem’s Fall“, delivered on September 16, 2001, and another titled “Confusing God and Government“, delivered on April 13, 2003.

But, in a sermon delivered shortly after the September 11 attacks in 2001, Wright made comments about an interview of former U.S. Ambassador Edward Peck he saw on FoxNews. Wright said:

“I heard Ambassador Peck on an interview yesterday. Did anybody else see him or hear him? He was on Fox News. This is a white man, and he was upsetting the Fox News commentators to no end. He pointed out — did you see him, John? – a white man, he pointed out, ambassador, that what Malcolm X said when he got silenced by Elijah Muhammad was in fact true – America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”

Wright spoke of the United States taking land from the Indian tribes by what he labeled as terror, bombing Grenada, Panama, Libya, Hiroshima and Nagasaki and argued that the United States supported state terrorism against the  Palestinians and South Africa. He said that his parishioners’ response should be to examine their relationship with God, not go “from the hatred of armed enemies to the hatred of unarmed innocents.”

His comment (quoting Malcolm X) that “America’s chickens are coming home to roost” was widely interpreted as meaning that America had brought the September 11, 2001 attacks upon itself. ABC News broadcast clips from the sermon in which Wright said:

“We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye… and now we are indignant, because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought back into our own front yards.”

Later, Wright continued:

“Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. And terrorism begets terrorism. A white ambassador said that, y’all. Not a black militant. Not a reverend who preaches about racism. An ambassador whose eyes are wide open and who is trying to get us to wake up and move away from this dangerous precipice upon which we are now poised. The ambassador said the people that we have wounded don’t have the military capability we have. But they do have individuals who are willing to die and take thousands with them. And we need to come to grips with that.”

[Keep in mind that the Reverend Wright was preaching in Chicago – about violence by white America begetting violence – to the black community – Chicago, the black-on-black murder capital of America!]

Clips from the sermon that Wright gave, entitled “Confusing God and Government“, were also shown on ABC’s America and on FoxNews. In the sermon, Wright first makes the distinction between God and governments, and points out that many governments in the past have failed: “Where governments lie, God does not lie. Where governments change, God does not change.”

 Wright then states:

“[The United States] government lied about their belief that all men were created equal. The truth is they believed that all white men were created equal. The truth is they did not even believe that white women were created equal, in creation or civilization. The government had to pass an amendment to the Constitution to get white women the vote. Then the government had to pass an equal rights amendment to get equal protection under the law for women.

The government still thinks a woman has no rights over her own body, and between Uncle Clarence [African-American Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas] who sexually harassed Anita Hill (an outrageous, discredited charge), and a closeted Klan court, that is a throwback to the 19th Century, handpicked by Daddy Bush, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, between Clarence and that stacked court, they are about to undo Roe vs. Wade, just like they are about to un-do affirmative action. The government lied in its founding documents and the government is still lying today. Governments lie.”

He continued:

“The government lied about Pearl Harbor too. They knew the Japanese were going to attack. Governments lie. The government lied about the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. They wanted that resolution to get us in the Vietnam War. Governments lie. The government lied about Nelson Mandela and our CIA helped put him in prison and keep him there for 27 years. The South African government lied on Nelson Mandela. Governments lie.”

Wright then stated:

“The government lied about the Tuskegee experiment. They purposely infected African-American men with syphilis. Governments lie. The government lied about bombing Cambodia and Richard Nixon stood in front of the camera, “Let me make myself perfectly clear…” Governments lie. The government lied about the drugs-for-arms Contra scheme orchestrated by Oliver North, and then the government pardoned all the perpetrators so they could get better jobs in the government. Governments lie…. The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. Governments lie. The government lied about a connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein and a connection between 9.11.01 and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Governments lie.”

He spoke about the government’s rationale for the Iraq War:

“The government lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq being a threat to the United States peace. And guess what else? If they don’t find them some weapons of mass destruction, they gonna’ do just like the LAPD, and plant some weapons of mass destruction. Governments lie.”

Wright then commented on God and government:

 “And the United States of America government, when it came to treating her citizens of Indian descent fairly, she failed. She put them on reservations. [Of course, they weren’t citizens at the time.] When it came to treating her citizens of Japanese descent fairly, she failed. She put them in internment prison camps. When it came to treating her citizens of African descent fairly, America failed. [At that time, of course, there was no America. There were British colonies.] She put them in chains, the government put them on slave quarters, put them on auction blocks, put them in cotton field, put them in inferior schools, put them in substandard housing, put them in scientific experiments, put them in the lowest paying jobs, put them outside the equal protection of the law, kept them out of their racist bastions of higher education and locked them into positions of hopelessness and helplessness. The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing “God Bless America”. No, no, no, not God Bless America. God damn America – that’s in the Bible – for killing innocent people. God damn America, for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America, as long as she tries to act like she is God, and she is supreme. The United States government has failed the vast majority of her citizens of African descent.”

[The simplistic approach of Reverend Wright, to each of the issues he raises, is itself dishonest and disingenuous in the simplicity ascribed to the many complex subjects he addresses. The bare minimum hundreds of pages that comprise this treatise is testimony to the complex context in which each of them existed. It also trivializes many of the legitimate issues, such as the Tuskegee Experiment and the Japanese-American internment, by lumping them together with moronic statements about Pearl Harbor and AIDS. So, in effect, Reverend Wright lies.]

Next time: Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama.

The War on Poverty

In claiming the mantle of leadership of the civil rights agenda after Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968, Jackson, Sharpton and their ilk, people like Adam Clayton Powell and Charles Rangel of Harlem, Marion Barry of Washington, D.C., and Willie Brown of San Francisco and other leftovers from the New Deal, hijacked the chance that was within the grasp of the entire African-American community to take full advantage of the equal opportunity promised in the Constitution by convincing blacks in America that equality really meant equality-of-outcome, regardless of the personal circumstances and that equality-of-outcome meant equality-of-effort.

Their campaigns of self-aggrandizement, extortion and demagoguery resulted in demands by black, mostly urban, voters in the succeeding decades to have the government, especially the federal government, guarantee a comfortable middle-class existence from cradle-to-grave through (read mainly white) taxpayer funded programs to supplement income, housing, food, education (a better term would be indoctrination – with the enthusiastic cooperation of the NEA and AFT), school supplies, clothing, transportation, health insurance, cell phones, home computers and more – based on the false premise that they could not achieve a middle-class standard of living through their own efforts.

All of these programs received full positive and enthusiastic television and press coverage, as if dependence upon the largesse of the government or of “rich folk” was something to strive for – thus doing irreparable harm to the self-esteem and ambition of generation after generation of African-American children who, year-after-year, have had the essentials of modern life handed to them with much fanfare.

What Jackson, Sharpton and their ilk did [and what Barack Obama, after 8-years with the unparalleled power of the Presidential “bully-pulpit”, did not undo] was more than cynical, more than criminal – it was evil – effectively selling their people into a slavery just like the princes and potentates of Africa did so long ago – a slavery of dependence upon an uncaring bureaucracy beholden to a morally corrupt Progressive/liberal political class and burdened by the discrimination of low expectations that has kept them in a perpetual state of economic, educational and spiritual (not religious) poverty for more than fifty years.

This to a people who had overcome betrayal by their own leaders in Africa, survived the Middle Passage, endured almost a quarter-millennium in slavery in North America to emerge with a vibrant, indomitable and unique culture and then to suffer through another century of separation from their fundamental rights as citizens to dream that anything was possible – yet to rise time and again in the 1870s, 1920s and 1950s with the dream to enter the American mainstream as full and equal citizens. This betrayal must rank with the true outrages in all of human history.

This has resulted in the creation of a vast government dependent African-American population who, quite predictably, support politicians (overwhelmingly Democrats) who promise more of the same – if the African-American community keeps sending them back to Washington.

The year 2014 marked the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s launch of the War on Poverty – aimed mainly at the urban poor but also included the rural poor in areas like Appalachia. In January 1964, Johnson declared “unconditional war on poverty in America.” Since then, the taxpayers have spent $22,000,000,000,000 (that’s trillion) on Johnson’s War. Adjusted for inflation, that’s three times the cost of all military wars since the American Revolution.

In 2015, government spent $943 billion providing cash, food, housing and medical care to poor and low-income Americans. (That figure doesn’t include Social Security or Medicare for people who have earned their benefits during their working lives.) More than 100 million people, or one third of Americans, received some type of welfare aid, at an average cost to taxpayers of $9,000 per recipient. If converted into cash, this spending was five times what was needed to eliminate all poverty in the United States.

The U.S. Census Bureau releases an annual poverty report. The latest report claims that in 2013, 14.5 percent of Americans were poor. Remarkably, that’s almost the same poverty rate as in 1967, three years after the War on Poverty started. How can that be? How can government spend $9,000 per recipient and have no effect on poverty? The answer is, of course, it can’t. To have no effect on poverty, that $943 billion has not been “spent”, it has been wasted.

The static nature of poverty is especially surprising because poverty fell dramatically during the period before the War on Poverty began. In 1950, after war-related employment had disappeared and American industry began to retool for a consumer driven economy, the poverty rate was 32.2 percent. By 1965 (the first year during which any War on Poverty programs began to operate), the rate had been cut nearly in half (47%) to 17 percent. In the 50 years since, it has declined only 14.7% from there – less than one-sixth the rate of the preceding 25 years!

The Census counts a family as poor if its “income” falls below certain thresholds. But in counting “income,” the Census ignores almost all of the $943 billion in annual welfare spending. This, of course, makes the Census’ poverty figures very misleading, to say the least. They certainly do not convey the truth about the spending capability of the nation’s poor.

This fact is demonstrated by the actual living conditions of households labeled as poor by the Census –  which are surprising to most people. According to the government’s own surveys, 80 percent of poor households have air conditioning; nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite television; half have a personal computer; 40 percent have a wide-screen HDTV. Three-quarters own a car or truck; nearly a third have two or more vehicles. Less than 2 percent of the poor are homeless. Only 10 percent live in a mobile home.

Ninety-six percent of poor parents state that their children were never hungry at any time during the year because they could not afford food. Some 82 percent of poor adults reported that they were never hungry at any time in the prior year. As a group, poor children are far from being chronically undernourished. The average consumption of protein, vitamins and minerals is virtually the same for poor and middle-class children and in most cases is well above recommended norms – so far above, in fact, that obesity is now a crisis among the “poor”.

The average poor American lives in a house or apartment that is in good repair and not overcrowded. In fact, the average poor American has more living space than the typical non-poor individual living in Sweden, France, Germany or the United Kingdom. Do these living conditions mean the War on Poverty was a success? Not really.

The United Nations defines poverty as follows: “Fundamentally, poverty is a denial of choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity. It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or clinic to go to, not having the land on which to grow one’s food or a job to earn one’s living, not having access to credit. It means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities. It means susceptibility to violence, and it often implies living on marginal or fragile environments, without access to clean water or sanitation.”

Using this definition, almost no one in the United States lives in poverty (or has since the 1930s). Virtually everyone participates in society – mostly free schooling through high school (and in some States, the first two years of college), athletic events, demonstrations, church, politics, musical events, television, motion pictures, cell phones, electronic games, etc. No mentally stable citizen has starved to death, no one runs around unclothed and un-arrested, all children have access to school, healthcare, fresh water and sanitary facilities. People of all races have poor credit and all Americans now feel insecure and powerless.

Are there still pockets of poverty? Of course but, they are few – mostly parts of Appalachia, some tribal reservations and some remote neighborhoods in our inner-cities where even law enforcement does not go. In fact, President Johnson used a widely publicized photo opportunity staged in one of the worst pockets of poverty in the United States at the time to demonstrate the need for his “war”. That well-chronicled trip was – wait for it – not to an inner city African-American community but, to Appalachia.

But, what these overall conditions tell us is that the War on Poverty was unnecessary for the vast majority of Americans for whom it was intended. It was a political stunt by the PLDC that has, inadvertently (I hope) led to the destruction of the urban African-American family and community! And now, we have a much larger problem – millions of under-educated, socially-challenged African-Americans in broken families in crime and drug-infested neighborhoods, living in middle-class (per United Nations definition) dependency upon the federal government and blaming the very people whose taxes have paid for these programs for their dilemma.

When Johnson launched the War on Poverty, he wanted to give the poor a “hand up, not a hand out.” He stated that his war would shrink welfare rolls and turn the poor from “tax-eaters” into “taxpayers.” Johnson’s aim was to make poor families self-sufficient – able to rise above poverty through their own earnings without dependence on welfare.

The exact opposite has happened. For a decade-and-a-half before the War on Poverty began, self-sufficiency in America improved dramatically. For the past 50 years, though, there has been no improvement at all. In fact, things have gotten worse as many groups are less capable of self-support today than when  Johnson’s war started.

The culprit is, in significant part, the welfare system  itself, which discourages work and penalizes marriage and the nuclear family. When the War on Poverty began, 7% of American children were born outside marriage. Today, the number is about 25% however, about 75% — that’s right, 75% – of African-American babies are born out-of-wedlock! The collapse of marriage is the main cause of child “poverty” today.

Now, many advocates for the welfare state will argue that the collapse of the nuclear family in the African-American community is due to the lack of marriage-eligible men in the community – because most of them are incarcerated and the solution is to change the criminal justice system to allow offenders to remain in the community. Opponents ask; “To do what – commit more offenses and father more children to observe how to offend?”

The solution to the high incarceration rates in the black community is a subject for its own treatise but, suffice it to say that the solution begins with respect and respect begins at home with respectable behavior by parents, siblings and the extended family. Children growing up in a home environment where they are constantly exposed to invectives against “whitey” or the police or authority in general or America’s “racist” society will enter that society with no respect for teachers, first-responders, other races, the system of justice or for the law.

“Puttin’ on whitey” and runnin’ from “the man” become a way of life for these unfortunates.

Such conditioning produces the rule-breaking in school and the law-breaking after schooling is over. Until that cycle is broken, incarceration rates will, and should, remain high because the root-cause of the problem will not have been addressed. In present-day America, the problem cannot even be mentioned. It’s not politically correct.

Not all African-Americans perpetuate this cycle, of course but, a critical mass of them do, to the extent that a significant percentage of children and young adults in the black community have suspiciously common and convenient excuses for the disrespectful behaviors that result in the disciplinary actions from society that lead to wasted lives even where opportunities abound for those who would forsake the easy excuses and apply their God-given talents to the hard work necessary for success.

Most African-Americans know what the “crab bucket” refers to. It is when African-Americans try to lift themselves out of poverty by doing well in school, earning a higher degree, starting a career, working hard, raising their children to respect their country, authority, success and all people, they are constantly fighting to not be pulled back into the “old neighborhood” by childhood “buddies” – like crabs in a bucket down at the shore all pulling on each other so that none can escape. For a moving description of this feature of the black-community, read Sammy Davis Jr.’s autobiography, Yes I Can.

Unfortunately, the welfare state is self-perpetuating – how fortunate for those who make a living – or a career – from perpetuating dependence upon federal government handouts. By undermining the social norms necessary for self-reliance, welfare creates a need for even greater assistance in the future and the government plans to spend $13 trillion more over the next decade on welfare programs that will continue to discourage work, penalize marriage and undermine self-sufficiency. That brings the total “Great Society” wasted spending to $35 trillion! We could almost retire the national debt TWICE for that amount.

Here are some worthwhile thoughts from Louis Woodhill of Forbes Magazine (edited for clarity for non-economists).

“Has the War on Poverty been a failure?  Well, of course it has. If you devote 50 years and $21.5 trillion (in 4Q2013 dollars) to anything, and people are arguing about whether it was a success or a failure, then you can be sure that it was a failure.

Have you noticed that, 50+ years from its inception, no one is suggesting that the Apollo program was a failure?  The Apollo program was an unchallenged success because it accomplished its stated goal: “…to land a man on the moon, and to return him safely to the earth [within 10 years].”

The stated goal of the War on Poverty, as enunciated by Lyndon Johnson on January 8, 1964, was, “…not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it.” In other words, President Johnson was not proposing a massive system of ever-increasing welfare benefits, doled out to an ever-enlarging population of beneficiaries. His proclaimed goal was not a massive new system of government handouts but an increase in self-sufficiency: a new generation capable of supporting themselves out of poverty without government handouts.

LBJ actually planned to reduce, not increase, welfare dependence. He declared, “We want to give the forgotten fifth of our people opportunity, not doles.” He claimed that his war would enable the nation to make “important reductions” in future welfare spending: The goal of the War on Poverty, he stated, would be “making taxpayers out of tax eaters.” Because he viewed the War on Poverty as a means to increase self-support, Johnson proclaimed that it would be an “investment” that would “return its cost manifold to the entire economy.” [Now, of course, all government spending s called “investment”.]

Measured against these objectives, the War on Poverty has not just been a failure, it has been a catastrophe.  It was supposed to help America’s poor become self-sufficient, and it has made them dependent and dysfunctional.”

This, is fact, is illustrated most vividly by the stupifyingly named “Anchored Supplemental Poverty Measure Before Taxes and Transfers” (ASPMBTAT).  Stick with me here! This metric was devised to assess the ability of people to earn enough, not counting taxes and subsidies – welfare, food stamps, etc. –  to keep themselves and their dependent children out of poverty.

According to the federal government in 1967, the income required to do this varies by family size and composition, but, for a family comprising two adults and two children, it is $25,500/year (in 4Q2013 dollars). The ASPMBTAT is the ultimate quantitative test of the success (or failure) of the War on Poverty, at least in terms of its stated objective.

Shortly after the War on Poverty got rolling (1967), about 27% of Americans lived in “official” poverty.  In 2012, the last year for which data is available, the number was about 29%. This result would be shocking, even if we had not spent $21.5 trillion “fighting poverty” over the past 50 years.  Here’s why. (This is not hard – just basic arithmetic)

Between 1967 and 2012, U.S. Real Gross Domestic Product (RGDP) per capita (in 4Q2013 dollars) increased by 127.3%, from $23,706 to $52,809 for a typical family of four. That is good growth. Don’t confuse this number with the federal poverty standard of $25,500 in 1967.

In other words, to stay out of poverty in 1967 (earn $25,500 in 4Q2013 dollars), the two adults in a typical family of four had to capture 26.9% of their family’s proportionate share of the national RGDP (i.e., average RGDP per capita, times four: $23,706 x 4 = $94,824, so that $25,500/$94,824 = 26.9%).

To accomplish the same thing in 2012, they only had to pull in only 12.1% of their family’s share of RGDP ($52,809 x 4 = $211,236; $25,500/$211,236 = 12.07%).  And yet, fewer people were able to manage this in 2012 than in 1967.

Simply put, more “poor” people were dependent upon government subsidies to maintain their lifestyle in 2012 more than were successfully managing their economic status – to the tune of the government providing more than half of their income.

What actually turned the War on Poverty into a social and human catastrophe was that the enhanced welfare state created a perverse system of incentives, and people adapted to their new environment. That people would adapt to a changed social/economic environment should have surprised no one.  After all, everyone living today is here because 50,000+ generations of their ancestors managed to adapt to whatever circumstances they found themselves in, at least well enough to produce and successfully raise offspring.

The adaptation of the working-age poor to the War on Poverty’s expanded welfare state was immediately evident in the growth of various social pathologies, especially the economically rewarding of unwed childbearing.  The adaptation of the middle class to the new system took longer to manifest, but it was no less significant.

Even people with incomes far above the thresholds for welfare state programs were forced to adapt to the welfare state.  As crime rates (driven by rising numbers of “fatherless” boys) rose in the cities, and urban schools’ systems became dangerous and dysfunctional, the middle class (of all races) was forced to flee to the suburbs.

(Almost three-quarters of the children, who are able, choose to leave urban public schools.) Because many middle-class mothers had to go to work to permit their families to bid for houses in good school districts (as well as pay the higher taxes that the expanded welfare state required), self-supporting families had fewer children.

Before we look at how the poor adapted to the War on Poverty’s enhanced means-tested welfare programs, let’s look, for enlightenment, at how America adapted to Medicare and enhanced Social Security benefits.

“Desperate to spin the disastrous War on Poverty as a success, progressives/liberals – who controlled the nation’s purse strings for forty years beginning in 1954 – have tried to divert our attention from America’s growing underclass by pointing to the large decline in the Official Poverty Measure (OPM, which includes cash transfer payments) for senior citizens. The OPM for Americans age 65 and above fell from about 30% in 1967 to about 9% in 2012. But, it is not clear that the OPM for seniors would be higher today if the War on Poverty had never been mounted and, these payments are a “reward” for actually being productive!

Because the War on Poverty made Social Security benefits more generous, and also created Medicare, it produced an instantaneous reduction in the OPM for senior citizens.  And, obviously, if Social Security and Medicare were terminated tomorrow, the OPM for senior citizens would rise.  However, because both Medicare and enhanced Social Security have now been in place for the entire working lifetimes of the people retiring today, these calculations prove nothing. Progressives want us to believe that the people that started working after 1965 would have managed their lives and their finances exactly the same way if the welfare state had not been expanded during the mid-1960s.  This is not likely.

More importantly – and more damaging to a capital-based economy (where institutions, like savings-banks, lend money to businesses for expansion and the hiring of new employees), as Social Security and Medicare benefits were made more generous, people reduced their savings.  The Personal Savings Rate (which is calculated as a percent of disposable income) has fallen by more than half since 1967 (from 12.2% to 5.6%).  In other words, when people found that they didn’t need to save as much to avoid being poor in old age, they didn’t save as much during their working years.  Also, because of higher payroll taxes, workers had less money to save.

This was particularly problematic because GDP is driven by capital investment – which is dependent upon personal savings accounts which banks use for lending purposes. America’s lower savings rate translated into slower economic growth.  Because, as Albert Einstein once said, “…compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe”, our economy is considerably smaller today than it would have been if people had been encouraged and able to save more for retirement.  And, because of unfavorable trade agreements with foreign countries, there are far fewer good-paying jobs (for African-Americans as well as everyone else) than there would have been with more investment and higher GDP.

Among other things, a smaller GDP means that supporting our non-working senior citizens imposes a larger burden upon today’s working people than it would have if savings and investment had been higher over the past 50 years. So, it is not clear at all that the War on Poverty’s enhanced welfare state for senior citizens produced any long-term benefit, even for seniors.  However, at least we can afford it.

With correct economic policies, the U.S. can sustain RGDP growth rates of 3.5% or higher, and this level of growth would make Social Security and Medicare affordable, with no tax increases and no benefit cuts. [Unfortunately, the Obama Recovery from the Recession of 2007-8 averaged only slightly more than 1%!] What America cannot afford is a welfare state that makes government dependency a feasible career option for its young people.

The War on Poverty made welfare (broadly defined) into a viable entry-level job, and poor people signed up for it in droves. The pathologies that resulted from the War on Poverty were not the fault of the poor themselves. They simply adapted, in a logical and predictable way, to a welfare state designed and promoted by our progressive/liberal elites.”

Next time: The death of the black community.

Jackson and Sharpton

As for Jackson and Sharpton, like some African rulers before them and their forefathers’ black slave-masters, they were, and continue to be, willing to cynically and hypocritically, sell their own for profit. While they refer to themselves as “Reverend”, there is not much discernible evidence that religion plays a significant part in their private lives so, I will dispense with the title in this treatise. Although both had access to Dr. King and his guiding principles, each decided on a much different path to influence the black community after the passage of the Great Society legislation in 1966 and the death of Dr. King in 1968.

“For decades Jesse Jackson has intimidated numerous companies into donating hundreds of millions of dollars to his organizations by suing, protesting, and boycotting them under the guise of redressing racism. All the while, Jackson benefits himself first and foremost. Among the big players he has extorted are Texaco, Coca-Cola, Ford, Anheuser-Busch and several telecommunications giants.

In a recent year, for example, Jackson billed the charities he controls $614,000 for “travel expenses.” When asked to explain this extraordinary figure, he says that he often spends more than 200 days per year traveling on charitable business. Yet even if we make the charitable assumption that this figure doesn’t include any direct padding of Jackson’s self-reported $430,000 annual income, this still works out to nearly $3,000 per day [every day of the year. No holidays for Jesse Jackson!]

As early as 1982 Jackson launched a boycott of Anheuser-Busch because it purportedly did not have enough black-owned distributorships nationwide. The beer company eventually contributed $510,000 to Jackson and established a $10 million fund to help blacks buy distributorships. When Jackson’s two sons (Yusef and Jonathan) purchased a River North distributorship in Chicago for an estimated $30 million, Jackson dropped the boycott and became the company’s best friend.

When the Chicago Sun-Times asks if there might be any connection between the boycott and the awarding of the distributorship Jackson became mightily offended. “If Bush is qualified to run the country, they are qualified to run a beer distributorship” he thundered, employing a typically spurious bit of illogical demagoguery. “They should not be profiled or otherwise suggestions dropped that they are less than able to do what they do. That is very insulting to me. Very insulting.”

This is a truly priceless bit of racialist bluster. Notice Jackson doesn’t even bother to deny that the distributorship was a payoff. Instead, he switches the topic to the racially loaded question of whether his sons were “qualified.” Qualified for what? To join their father in enjoying the fruits of the racial-protection racket? There’s no need to feel insulted, nobody doubts they were. [Also notice that a major newspaper actually challenged Jackson. Ah, the good old days.]

Jackson has gone so far as to lobby the Federal Communications Commission to block companies seeking government approval to merge, until they donate money to his organization. In the late 1990s, he opposed the merger of telecommunications giants SBC and Ameritech, saying it would be detrimental to low-income customers. Money changed Jackson’s mind, however. He became the deal’s biggest cheerleader when the companies donated $500,000 to one of his Rainbow/PUSH funds [a Nation of Islam creation]. [But wait, what about the low-income customers? Tough luck, guys.]

In another example, Jackson opposed the CBS-Viacom merger, but let it be known that his opposition would disappear if Viacom were to sell its UPN network to Chester Davenport or Percy Sutton, both long-time friends of his. The Sun-Times reports “Jackson also blocked the SBC-Ameritech merger until Ameritech agreed to sell part of its cellular phone business to a minority owner, who turned out to be Davenport.” “The price you pay for our support,” Jackson says, “is to include us.” [“Us”, we will see, refers to Jackson and his close friends!]

Shortly after that, he opposed a merger of AT&T and TCI but, once again, reversed his position after AT&T wrote a $425,000 check. Fearing the wrath of Jackson’s racism accusations [and his power to deliver mobs of loyal, angry protestors on short notice and for extended periods – apparently because they had nothing else to do – both benefits of living off of the taxpayers], other telecommunications giants – including GTE and Bell-Atlantic – followed suit with big contributions.

Of course Jackson wants people to think he means “the African-American community” when he refers to “us” in his conception of the “politics of inclusion”. A mountain of evidence suggests the pronoun should be given a somewhat more limited meaning. In yet another example of what Jackson means by the politics of inclusion, his Citizenship Education Fund has gotten hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants from telecommunications companies whose mergers he initially opposed.

Such shakedown anecdotes are abundant in Jackson’s storied public life, and the Toyota case is only the most recent of many. The Toyota shakedown began with a postcard advertisement that Toyota used during the summer of 2001 to promote a new sports utility vehicle. The ad featured a smiling black man with an image of the SUV visible on his bright gold tooth. Jackson said the ad was racist, and Toyota immediately pulled it.”

The “gold tooth” is a common physical expression in the African-American community as a sign of success and high-standing among ones’ peers and was portrayed as such in the marketing campaign directed at the African-American community.

“That was not enough for Jackson. He threatened a boycott of Toyota, and the auto maker’s frantic executives agreed to meet with him. Nick Nichols’ book – entitled The Rules for Corporate Warriors: How to fight and survive attack group shakedowns –follows the highly publicized deal in August of that year between Jackson and Toyota Motor Sales USA, in which the automaker agreed to spend nearly $8 billion over ten years to increase minority participation in the company. Prior to the agreement, Jackson had threatened to organize a boycott against Toyota. 

Toyota was also accused of buckling under Jackson’s pressure by diverting a portion of a $300 million bond offering to supporters of the civil rights leader. Toyota claims the bond offering was merely a “coincidence,” and unrelated to its agreement with Jackson to boost minority participation at the company.

With Jackson at their side a few months later, Toyota executives announced a new, $7.8 billion diversity program – the one featured at the Los Angeles meeting where Rev. Peterson was attacked for daring to ask Toyota how a conservative, black organization that was not part of Jackson’s inner circle could work with Toyota in a positive, mutually beneficial way.

Toyota’s Irving Miller, the vice president of corporate communications, admitted later in a sworn deposition that company officials were deeply concerned about the potential boycott and that it was the reason Toyota developed the so-called 21st Century Diversity Strategy, which pledged to make $700 million in contracts and business opportunities available to minority firms each year for a period of ten years.

Visibly nervous during his deposition in Los Angeles, Miller was careful to avoid testifying that the multi-million-dollar plan was actually devised or controlled by Jackson. He did admit, however, that Toyota discussed Jackson’s concerns and that those concerns are “manifest in the program that we developed.”

Jackson finally was forced to admit, under oath, what many have known for years; that Jackson’s brand of civil rights comes with a price tag. If you don’t join Jackson’s “Trade Bureau” – and pay dues to Jackson – you won’t have any chance of picking up the apples from the trees Jackson shakes.

By 2001, a Washington D.C. public relations executive was warning clients about the consequences of “appeasement” in dealing with Jesse Jackson, and labeled Jackson the “godfather of corporate shakedowns.” 

“We have had protection rackets for several thousand years because they work. The Mafia has made protection an art form. Jackson has taken a lesson from history,” author Nichols told CNSNews.com. He defines a shakedown as occurring when a group or individual like Jackson makes “a highly exaggerated or completely bogus allegation and the message to the company is you either do things our way or we are going to take this public, embarrass you, hurt you on Wall Street and do a lot of damage.” 

The next step, Nichols said, involves the corporation consulting with a public relations firm, which usually recommends that the company meet the demands of the pressure group. But Nichols cautions against taking this advice. “That is the attitude that was held by [former British Prime Minister] Neville Chamberlain when he tried to do this with Adolf Hitler. It didn’t get him anywhere and it’s not going to get them anywhere,” he stated.

When a company gives into these types of demands, they are open to even more pressure, according to Nichols. “Once your corporation has been marked as a company that is prepared to pay up and roll over, other groups who also make a living from doing this kind of thing start to go after you.” Nichols cites Starbucks’ decision to meet the demands of the organic food industry as a recent example. “Starbucks rolled over. Now every time you pick up the paper, someone new is attacking the company. It’s an easy hit for people who simply want to engage in a protection activity.”

Nichols expects more corporations to give in to the demands of Jackson because “a lot of corporate executives are getting counsel from PR flacks and others to basically engage in appeasement. It’s a lot easier to do than to fight back.” Critics say Jackson’s agreement with Toyota shows a familiar pattern.

Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal & Policy Center (NLPC), said Toyota’s finance division sold the $300 million bond offering, with a portion going to two financial contributors of Jackson, just one week after Jackson’s boycott was delayed. The NLPC filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service alleging that Jackson’s Citizenship Education Fund (CEF) had violated several tax code provisions.

“There is a $300 million security offering that gets farmed out through the underwriter to two of Jackson’s biggest supporters on Wall Street,” Boehm said, noting it happened just one week after Jackson announced he was delaying the boycott against Toyota. “Sometimes things are exactly what they look like. This is one of those times,” Nichols said. “You have a quid, a pro and a quo.”

The New York Post reported that Toyota sold the $300 million issue of medium-term notes through Goldman Sachs, “listing two street firms whose owners are big Jackson supporters – Blaylock & Partners, and Williams Capital – as sellers of the issue.” 

Blaylock & Partners contributed $30,000 to CEF and also benefited from Jackson’s opposition to a merger between AT&T and TCI, Boehm alleged. “[Jackson] dropped his opposition when the companies hired Blaylock & Partners to float an $8 billion bond offering. AT&T then gave [Jackson’s] CEF $425,000” according to Boehm. 

Williams Capital has given Jackson at least $50 thousand in contributions, Boehm said. “That would be strictly coincidence and not part of our reason for using them,” Mike Michels, a spokesman for Toyota told CNSNews.com, regarding the multi-million-dollar medium-term note sale involving the two firms. “There was no quid pro quo,” he said.

Boehm counters, “I think it is what it looks like. It is no coincidence at all. It was the payoff.” On June 20th, after a series of meetings with Toyota, Jackson announced he was postponing the boycott and set a deadline of Aug. 1 to resolve the issue. Toyota made it known that it wanted to resolve the boycott threat by working with Jackson to reach an accord. According to Boehm, the stock offering was made at the end of June and Toyota’s agreement with Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH coalition to increase minority hiring was finalized Aug. 8.

Michels laments that there is a “lingering perception that our corporate diversity plan was in some way a contract or some kind of agreement with Rev. Jesse Jackson. It is not.” He instead credits Jackson with allowing Toyota “to delve into our diversity programs much more comprehensively than we had in the past” and giving the company “an excellent opportunity to look at it in a holistic fashion.” 

Boehm believes Jackson’s threatened Toyota boycott followed a familiar pattern. “He makes a threat, the corporate folks who are being threatened cave in by giving money to Jackson’s groups, or friends, or business associates and then a boycott is averted. That is exactly what happened here. It’s a one, two and three that has characterized virtually every one of his boycotts,” he said.

Keiana Peyton, a spokeswoman for Operation PUSH, told CNSNews.com that Jackson has been proven financially clean. “In the probes that have already been completed, they have found no financial improprieties,” she said. 

Boehm said he is unaware of the “probes” referred to by Peyton. “To say he has been cleared, I would like to know who cleared him and when. Just about any time he has ever come under official scrutiny, he has never come up clean,” Boehm said. When pressed to name the probes to which she was referring, Peyton would only reference a Jackson media relations effort earlier this year. “We had a national press conference with CNN, local papers, FOX News. We gave them a tour of our financial records and financial offices and again those accusations that were raised, no evidence was found,” she offered.

Boehm explained that “Jackson’s entire career has been marked with financial irregularities going back to grant money in the 1970s with federal auditors to the present day use of charitable funds to pay his mistress.” The latter accusation refers to a scandal that became public when Jackson admitted he had fathered a child out of wedlock with a former employee, Karin Stanford.

According to the NLPC, Jackson also may have used funds from his Citizenship Education Fund to help Stanford buy a house in Los Angeles, a charge Jackson’s organization denies. “There is a compelling pattern that Jackson helps those in the minority community that help him first,” Boehm noted.

Peyton defended Jackson’s tactics and said there was nothing unusual about them. “There might be persons, that the reverend or our trade bureau members are familiar with their records, their work histories and their ability to provide services. The average person would only want to recommend persons that they have worked with personally or could vouch comfortably for them,” she explained. “But as far as it being exclusively for a particular group of people, that is not the case at all.”

Even Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., son of the liberal icon and former Attorney General in his brother’s Presidential administration has serious criticisms for Jackson. RFK Jr. kept notes for his journal during his month-long stint in a Puerto Rican prison. He, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson’s wife, Jacqueline, were charged with trespassing during protests on Vieques, the Puerto Rican island the US Navy used as a bombing range.

“The Revs. Jackson and Sharpton …give me the creeps,” Kennedy wrote in a July 5 entry. “Al Sharpton has done more damage to the black cause than (segregationist Alabama Gov.) George Wallace. He has suffocated the decent black leaders in New York,” … “His transparent venal blackmail and extortion schemes taint all black leadership.”

He went on to call Sharpton a “buffoon” who has never escaped the “stench” of his advocacy for Tawana Brawley, the black Dutchess County teen who fabricated a story about six white men raping her in 1987.

He wrote that Jesse Jackson has “a desperate and destructive addiction to publicity.” He recalled that Jackson, at labor leader Cesar Chavez’s funeral, pushed “Cesar’s friends and family out of the way to make himself lead pall bearer.” “His love affair with [Nation of Islam leader] Louis Farrakhan and his Jewish xenophobia are also unforgivable,” Kennedy added. “I feel dirty around him, and I feel like I’m being used. I feel like with Jesse, it’s all about Jesse.”

“Al Sharpton came into the national spotlight as a leader of the black community when he gained notoriety in 1987–88 for inserting himself into an amazing scheme to extort the small town of Newburgh, New York involving Tawana Glenda Brawley, a young African-American woman from Wappingers Falls, NY who falsely accused six white men of raping her.

The charges received widespread national attention because of her age (15), the persons accused (including police officers and a prosecuting attorney), and the shocking state in which Brawley was found after the alleged rape (in a trash bag, with racial slurs written on her body and covered in feces). Brawley’s accusations were given widespread media attention in part from the involvement of her advisers [how many unknown 15-year old’s have advisors?], including Al Sharpton and attorneys Alton H. Maddox and C. Vernon Mason.

After hearing evidence, a grand jury concluded in October 1988 that Brawley had not been the victim of a forcible sexual assault and that she herself may have created the appearance of such an attack. The New York prosecutor whom Brawley had accused as one of her alleged assailants successfully sued Brawley and her three advisers for defamation.

Brawley initially received considerable support from the African-American community. Some suggested that Brawley was victimized by biased reporting that adhered to racial stereotypes. The mainstream media’s coverage drew heated criticism from the African-American press and many black leaders who could brook no degree of skepticism or disbelief of the teenager and her story. The grand jury’s conclusions decreased support for Brawley and her advisers. 

On November 28, 1987, Tawana Brawley, who had been missing for four days from her home in Wappingers Falls, was found seemingly unconscious and unresponsive, lying in a garbage bag several feet from an apartment where she had once lived. Her clothing was torn and burned, her body smeared with feces. She was taken to the emergency room, where the words “KKK”, “nigger”, and “bitch” were discovered written on her torso with a black substance described as charcoal.

A detective from the Sheriff’s Juvenile Aid Bureau, among others, was summoned to interview Brawley, but she remained unresponsive. The family requested a black officer, which the police department was able to provide. Brawley, described as having an “extremely spacey” look on her face, communicated with this officer with nods of the head, shrugs of the shoulder, and written notes. The interview lasted 20 minutes, during which she uttered only one word: “neon”.

Through gestures and writing, however, she indicated she had been raped repeatedly in a wooded area by three white men, at least one of whom, she claimed, was a police officer. A sexual assault kit was administered, and police began building a case. Brawley provided no names or descriptions of her assailants. She later told others that there had been no rape, only other kinds of sexual abuse.

Forensic tests found no evidence that a sexual assault of any kind had occurred. There was no evidence of exposure to elements, which would have been expected in a victim held for several days in the woods at a time when the temperature dropped below freezing at night.

Public response to Brawley’s story was at first mostly sympathetic. Actor Bill Cosby, among others, pledged support and helped raise money for a legal fund. In December 1987, 1,000 people, including Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, marched through the streets of Newburgh, NY in support of Brawley.

Brawley’s claims in the case captured headlines across the country. Public rallies were held denouncing the incident. Racial tension climbed. When civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton with attorneys Alton H. Maddox and C. Vernon Mason, began handling Brawley’s publicity, the case quickly took on an explosive edge. At the height of the controversy in June 1988, a poll showed a gap of 34 percentage points between blacks (51%) and whites (85%) on the question of whether she was lying. [This gap has only gotten worse in the succeeding decades because of the deceitful efforts of Jackson, Sharpton and the compromised liberal leaning press/media.]

Sharpton, Maddox, and Mason generated a national media sensation. The three claimed officials all the way up to the state government were trying to cover up defendants in the case because they were white. Specifically, they named Steven Pagones, an Assistant District Attorney in Dutchess County, as one of the rapists, and called him a racist, among other accusations.

The mainstream media’s coverage drew heated criticism from the African-American press and leaders for its treatment of the teenager. They cited the leaking and publication of photos taken of her at the hospital and the revelation of her name despite her being underage. In addition, critics were concerned that Brawley had been left in the custody of her mother, stepfather and advisers, rather than being given protection by the state, and that she was used as a pawn by adults who should have protected her.

The case exposed apparently deep (or easily manipulated) mistrust in the black community about winning justice from legal institutions. Some opinions remained fixed. Legal scholar Patricia J. Williams wrote in 1991 that the teenager “has been the victim of some unspeakable crime. No matter how she got there, no matter who did it to her and even if she did it to herself.” [Some scholarship!]

Now that’s truly “nutty” speaking. The parallels between this case – where a monstrous lie begot massive, uncritical, racial unrest, and the series of high-profile incidents involving young African-Americans and authorities in 2015-16 – are striking.

“These comments aroused controversy as well. On May 21, 1990, one of her attorneys, Alton H. Maddox, was indefinitely suspended by the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn after failing to appear before a disciplinary hearing to answer allegations regarding his conduct in the Brawley case.

In 1998, Pagones was awarded $345,000 (he sought $395 million) through a lawsuit for defamation of character that he had brought against Sharpton, Maddox and Mason. The jury found Sharpton liable for making seven defamatory statements about Pagones, Maddox for two and Mason for one. In a later interview, Pagones said the turmoil caused by the accusations of Brawley and her advisers had cost him his first marriage and much personal grief.

Pagones had also sued Brawley. She defaulted by not appearing at the trial, and the judge ordered her to pay him damages of $185,000. The $65,000 judgment levied against Al Sharpton was paid for him in 2001 by supporters,

Then, Sharpton really got busy in the racial controversy business. In 2008, Anheuser-Busch gave him six figures, Colgate-Palmolive shelled out $50,000 and Macy’s and Pfizer have contributed thousands to Sharpton’s charity. Almost 50 companies – including PepsiCo, General Motors, Wal-Mart, FedEx, Continental Airlines, Johnson & Johnson and Chase – and some labor unions sponsored Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN) annual conference in April.

Terrified of negative publicity, fearful of a consumer boycott or eager to make nice with the civil-rights activist, CEOs write checks, critics say, to NAN and Sharpton – who brandishes the buying power of African-American consumers. In some cases, they hire him as a consultantThe cash flows even as the US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn conducted a grand-jury investigation of NAN’s finances.

A General Motors spokesman told the New York Post that NAN had repeatedly – and unsuccessfully – asked for contributions for six years, beginning in August 2000. Then, in December 2006, Sharpton threatened to call a boycott of the carmaker over the closing of an African-American owned GM dealership in the Bronx, and he picketed outside GM headquarters on Fifth Avenue. The next year General Motors gave NAN a $5,000 donation. It gave $5,000 more [the next] year, a spokesman said, calling NAN a “worthy” organization.

In November 2003, Sharpton picketed Daimler-Chrysler’s Chicago car show and threatened a boycott over alleged racial bias in car loans. “This is institutional racism,” he bellowed. In May 2004, Chrysler began supporting NAN’s conferences, which include panels on corporate responsibility and civil rights and a black-tie awards dinner to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Last year, Sharpton gave Chrysler an award for corporate excellence.

In 2003, Sharpton targeted American Honda for not hiring enough African-Americans in management. “We support those that support us,” wrote Sharpton and the Rev. Horace Sheffield III, president of NAN’s Michigan chapter, in a letter to American Honda. “We cannot be silent while African-Americans spend hard-earned dollars with a company that does not hire, promote or do business with us in a statistically significant manner.” Two months after American Honda execs met with Sharpton, the carmaker began to sponsor NAN’s events – and continues to pay “a modest amount” each year, a spokesman said.

“I think this is quite clearly a shakedown operation,” said Peter Flaherty, president of the National Legal and Policy Center in Virginia, a conservative corporate watchdog. “He’s good at harassing people and making noise. CEOs give him his way because it is a lot easier than confronting him.” Sharpton denied his organization pressures corporations for cash. “That’s the old shakedown theory that the anti-civil-rights forces have used against us forever,” he told The Post. “Why can’t they come up with one company that says that? No one has criticized me.” [Of course not, they’re afraid!]

NAN, a tax-exempt nonprofit, closely guards its corporate largesse. Most companies also keep the sums secret, and some would not divulge them. The corporations interviewed by The Post viewed their relationships with NAN as friendly and beneficial. Anheuser-Busch states on its Web site that it gave the group “between $100,000 and $499,000” last year.

 New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo found NAN had failed to file years’ worth of financial reports. The group has filed more records, but the AG’s office said it won’t release them pending the US attorney’s probe. In its 2006 IRS filing, the latest available, NAN reported about $1 million in contributions and $1.1 million in expenses and programs. It still owes the IRS $1.9 million in payroll taxes.”

A NAN spokesman said the group is cooperating with authorities “to pay whatever obligations it owes and continues to do so.” What a shock. Apparently, the laws against extortion have been repealed for high profile race hustlers like Messrs. Sharpton and Jackson. And not only that, it is tax exempt!

As of this writing, Al Sharpton owes close to $5 million in unpaid State and federal taxes!

Next time: Still living in poverty.

The Nation of Islam

“Elijah Muhammad was an uncharismatic, inarticulate, long-lived, most influential African-American dissident. During his lifetime – he was born in 1897 and died in 1975 – he was a mysterious figure, the subject of rumor and innuendo. He told contradictory stories about himself, avoided the press, surrounded himself with a wall of bodyguards, and punished those who revealed information about him. But recent scholarship has pieced together his story, mostly thanks to law-enforcement records.

For, starting in 1932 and continuing for over four decades, police agencies kept extremely close tabs on him, including (as part of the controversial COINTELPRO program) by means of extensive FBI wiretaps and letter-openings. The resulting reports, now available to researchers in all their immensity – the FBI’s papers alone amount to well over a million pages – reveal the most intimate secrets of Elijah Muhammad’s household, his power struggles, and his personal and sexual escapades.

 Two authors, both black, have done yeoman work culling these archives (as well as other relevant documents), and have produced impressively researched biographies of the man who liked to be called the Messenger of Allah. Claude Andrew Clegg III’s, An Original Man: The Life and Times of Elijah Muhammad appeared in 1997; a well-rounded biography by a professor of history, it is also perhaps the best book ever written on the Nation of Islam. Also, The Messenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad, by Karl Evanzz, a journalist at the Washington Post; depending heavily on the police files, Evanzz provides more new information but also a somewhat skewed picture, since he tends to neglect matters (like theology) with which the FBI did not concern itself.

 As it happens, the two biographers disagree on a dismaying number of details, which suggests that much work on this topic remains to be done. In the main, though, their accounts complement each other and make it possible, for the first time, to understand who exactly Elijah Muhammad was.

 He was born Elija Pool in Sandersville, Georgia, in 1897, the seventh of thirteen children. Jim Crow rural Georgia at that time was a racist, violent place, and young Elija grew up with searing experiences of white scorn and brutality. The lynching of a friend in 1912 prompted him to flee his parent’s house a year later. In 1917 he met Clara Belle Evans and in 1919 married her; between 1921 and 1939, they had eight children.

Pool fled Georgia for Detroit in 1923 and then, in the classic pattern of black migration to the north, called for his family to follow. In Detroit, he worked in several industrial plants and joined a variety of organizations – notably, Marcus Garvey’s proto-black-nationalist movement, the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), and the Black Shriners; but neither of these kept his allegiance. After an arrest for drunkenness in 1926, Elija Pool became Elijah Poole, the change in spelling intended to symbolize the desire for a fresh start in life.

 In a further effort to improve himself, Poole also joined the Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA) and converted to its vaguely Islam-like religion, becoming intensely involved in the institution and in spreading its doctrines. This strangely-named organization had little in common with the standard version of Islam coming from the Middle East, but it was the first to forge a 20th-century link between that religion and African-Americans. Founded in 1913 by a Black Shriner named Timothy Drew (who renamed himself Noble Drew Ali), the MSTA introduced to America such Islam-like features as the crescent-and-star motif, the use of Arabic personal names, and the prohibition of pork, but it also foretold the destruction of all whites and promoted Drew as a prophet.

 The MSTA went into a steep decline with Drew’s death in July 1929, and Elijah Poole was among the many who quit. In the ensuing struggle for power, three major factions emerged, all based in Chicago. One was led by a very recent convert named David Ford, who quickly moved to Detroit and renamed both himself (Wallace D. Fard) and his faction – the Allah Temple of Islam (ATI). This new sect retained many of the MSTA’s peculiar customs and ideas, but it also introduced new elements, including the theme that whites are devils, and a paramilitary unit called the Fruit of Islam.

 In early 1931, Elijah Poole met Fard and quickly became his enthusiastic disciple, receiving in return the “original” name of Elijah Karriem. A year later, Fard further rewarded Elijah by making him Supreme Master of the ATI and changing his name yet again, this time to Elijah Muhammad. Over the course of their three-year partnership, Fard and Elijah Muhammad also elevated Fard’s own theological status – from Allah’s Messiah to Allah himself – with Muhammad taking over the role of Messenger.

 The ATI horrified the Detroit police, especially after one of its members ritualistically killed a man. Making a deal with Fard, the authorities let him out of a psychiatric ward on condition he shut down the ATI. Fard agreed, but then tricked the police by changing the ATI’s name to Nation of Islam (NoI) and keeping it alive. He was finally forced to leave Detroit in mid-1934. There-upon, Muhammad attempted to take control of the NoI, but he met with considerable opposition and was forced to flee to avoid being killed.

 His first stop was Chicago, then Milwaukee, then Washington, D.C., where he lived until 1942. There he took advantage of the opportunity to educate himself at the Library of Congress and to travel throughout the East, spreading his faith. A light-skinned, diminutive man, Elijah Muhammad won converts not through his eloquence – or his command of grammar – but through a soft, Southern-accented intensity that audiences found somewhat reminiscent of the manner of a black Baptist preacher (which his father had been).

 Although to nonbelievers it might seem hard to understand how he was able to rouse listeners to standing ovations or inspire their utter devotion, Clegg believes that he had the exact measure of his audience: “Something ineffable about this ‘squeaky little man teaching hate’ attracted African-Americans for an entire generation as few other leaders could.”

 In brief, Elijah Muhammad’s message went as follows: Blacks came into existence 78 trillion years ago [recall that the earth is only about 4.5 billion years old and the “Big Bang” itself occurred only 13 billion years ago], and through the eons they lived an advanced and righteous life. But their paradise ceased 6,000 years ago when a deviant black savant named Mr. Yakub, also known as “the big-head scientist,” rebelled against the black gods and set about creating the white race. When blacks learned what Mr. Yakub was doing, they exiled him to an island in the Aegean Sea, but he was able to continue his work and within 600 years had succeeded in bringing the white race into existence [that would be 3400 BC – the oldest European settlement is 45,000 years old], with a mandate to reign over blacks for six millennia. That reign ended in 1914, though a seventy-year period of grace would extend it to 1984; W.D. Fard had come to proclaim its end and to show blacks how to reclaim their rightful place through the Nation of Islam – a goal he said they would definitely accomplish by the year 2000.

 This imaginative schema had the virtue of explaining both black weakness and white evil, even as it motivated blacks to prepare themselves through discipline and hard work to seize power. But as a theology, it differed almost diametrically from core Islamic beliefs. In his worst nightmare, a Muslim could hardly imagine a religion more repugnant to his own than one that identified God with a human being, excluded most of humanity on racial grounds, believed in a post-Muhammadan prophet, and held the Qur’an to be an imperfect, temporary document.

 Compared with these basic principles, such NoI practices as the avoidance of pork, intermittent study of Arabic, and separation of the sexes were but minor details. The NoI offered a folk religion with strong Christian overtones and hints of science fiction. It had little in common with standard Islam. In the intervening seven decades it has moved in that direction, but not by much.

 Muhammad hated the United States [because it was a predominantly white country – is there any better definition of racist?] and loved its enemies, especially non-Caucasian ones. And so he rejoiced in the Japanese victory at Pearl Harbor in 1941, not only refusing to register for military service but instructing his followers to do likewise. Arrested for draft evasion in May 1942, he spent three years in jail on sedition charges, getting out in August 1946. The Nation had been kept alive during those years – barely – by his wife Clara and other faithful acolytes. On leaving prison, he found fewer than 400 active members. It was at this low point that a  devout follower named Malcolm X turned up and, as Evanzz puts it, “gave new life to the Messenger.

Malcolm X was born in 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. To his admirers he was a courageous advocate for the rights of blacks, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans; detractors accused him of preaching racism and violence. He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African-Americans in history.

His father was killed when he was six and his mother was placed in a mental hospital when he was thirteen, after which he lived in a series of foster homes.

He moved to New York City’s  Harlem neighborhood in 1943, where he engaged in drug dealing, gambling, racketeering, robbery, and pimping. According to other recent biographies [Manning Marable, Rediscovering Malcolm’s Life; Bruce Perry, Malcolm and Ta-Nehisi, The Sexuality of Malcolm X], Little also occasionally had sex with other men, usually for money. He befriended John Elroy Sanford, a fellow dishwasher at Jimmy’s Chicken Shack in Harlem who aspired to be a professional comedian. Both men had reddish hair, so Sanford was called “Chicago Red” after his hometown and Little was known as “Detroit Red”. Years later, Sanford became famous as Redd Foxx.

Summoned by the local draft board for military service in World War II, he [admittedly] feigned mental disturbance by rambling and declaring: “I want to be sent down South. Organize them nigger soldiers … steal us some guns, and kill us [some] crackers”. He was declared “mentally disqualified for military service”.

In late 1945, Little returned to Boston, where he and four accomplices committed a series of burglaries targeting wealthy white families. In 1946, he was arrested while picking up a stolen watch he had left at a shop for repairs, and in February 1946, at age 20, he went to prison for larceny and breaking and entering. began serving an eight-to-ten-year sentence at Charlestown State Prison for larceny and breaking and entering. While in prison, he became a member of the Nation of Islam (NOI), changing his birth name Malcolm Little to Malcolm X because, he later wrote, Little was the name that “the white slave master … had imposed upon [his] paternal forebears”.

After his parole in 1952 he quickly rose to become one of the organization’s most influential leaders, serving as the public face of the controversial group for a dozen years.Malcolm devoted himself full-time to building the organization, and with great success. Members began to flow in – new temples and schools were opened, and a number of small commercial enterprises (a bakery, grocery store, restaurant) were established. The Nation also bought real estate, both urban and rural. The money added up, and it soon became the richest-ever black organization in the United States.

In 1959, the national media discovered the Nation of Islam: TV reporter Mike Wallace’s television documentary, The Hate that Hate Produced, appalled whites but evidently thrilled many blacks, thousands of whom joined up as new members. Popular American figures such as Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) and Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul Jabbar) joined the NoI with much publicity.

In his autobiography, Malcolm X wrote proudly of some of the social achievements the Nation made while he was a member, particularly its free drug rehabilitation program. The Nation promoted black supremacy, advocated the separation of [segregation] of black and white Americans and rejected the civil rights movement  for its emphasis on integration.

By March 1964, Malcolm X had grown disillusioned with the Nation of Islam and its leader  Elijah Muhammad. Expressing many regrets about his time with them, which he had come to regard as largely wasted, he embraced Sunni Islam. After a period of travel in Africa and the Middle East, which included completing the Hajj, he also became known as el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz.

He repudiated the Nation of Islam, disavowed racism and founded Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity and the. He continued to emphasize Pan-Africanism, black self-determination, and black self-defense.

On February 21, 1965, he was [conveniently] assassinated by three members of the Nation of Islam. The NoI’s new wealth and stature also provided access to foreign leaders, and its dignitaries were soon in direct contact with such stars of the anti-American firmament as Sukarno of Indonesia, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, and Fidel Castro of Cuba. In 1959, Muhammad confirmed these burgeoning relationships in a triumphal tour of the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia, including a pilgrimage to Mecca that implied Saudi acceptance of his legitimacy as a Muslim.

(Although many observers at the time suspected foreign governments of funding the NoI, [the first African-American on the Supreme Court] Thurgood Marshall dismissed it as “a bunch of thugs organized from prisons and jails, and financed, I am sure, by [Egyptian president Gamal Abdel] Nasser or some Arab group” – in point of fact serious foreign funding arrived only in the 1970’s from Libya, Qatar, and Abu Dhabi.)

But then, just as everything was looking good, rot set in: “rumors of oppressive disciplinary practices, deviations from the moral code, and financial irregularities,” as Evanzz describes it.

From the start, the NoI had been steeped in violence; “ritual sacrifice” took place in 1932, when the organization was still called the Allah Temple of Islam. Through the decades, NoI members who presumed to disagree with Muhammad were injured or killed, a trend that culminated after 1960 with the assassination of Malcolm X (1965) and the murder of seven members of the Khaalis family (1973). Nor were whites immune: the notorious “Zebra” murders left nine dead in Illinois in 1972, and a year later a squad known as the Death Angels killed fourteen in the San Francisco area. And these were only the most spectacular atrocities.

Moral deviations likewise began in 1960: Elijah Muhammad’s first illegitimate child was born in January of that year, the first of thirteen unrecognized children whom he fathered over a seven-year period with no fewer than seven different mistresses. FBI tapes record Muhammad handing each woman the same line about his “divine seed,” then lying about his marital intentions; the FBI also found that he had five affairs going simultaneously, and that he threatened women with violence if they revealed his paternity. To his wife’s special shame, among these relationships was an incestuous one.

Nor was this all. Newly affluent, Muhammad lavished luxuries on himself and the “royal” family, as it came to be known. He traveled in a Lockheed executive jet, wore a jewel-studded fez said to be worth $150,000, and let his family milk the NoI for all it was worth. In Clegg’s careful words, this focus on money “ultimately validated, by example, a trend toward materialism, even avarice, that would hamper the Nation as a religious organization.”

It is hard to convey just how shocking Muhammad’s actions, especially his sexual ones, were to members of the moralistic NoI. His son Wallace later endeavored to explain it by saying that Elijah Muhammad had “been worshipped as the final prophet of God for so long that he had convinced himself that it was true,” and helped himself to the liberties his status seemed to confer.

Other consequences followed as well. Once he became the captive of his own avarice, Muhammad developed an operational timidity that was quite at odds with his fire-breathing rhetoric. He refused to sanction any response to police intrusions into NoI temples, and even took part in discussions with Ku Klux Klan leaders toward an arrangement whereby the NoI would stay out of “non-Negro” areas in return for the Klan’s leaving NoI members alone. The head of the American Nazi Party, George Lincoln Rockwell, was invited to speak at the NoI’s main annual event, and used the occasion to laud Elijah Muhammad as the black Adolf Hitler (high praise, in his view).

To cap it off, Muhammad was entering into a slow process of physical deterioration, and this led to a protracted battle over his succession. In the end, there were just two contestants, his son Wallace and his national spokesman Louis Farrakhan. (The rupture with Malcolm X had ended with the latter’s assassination by Muhammad’s goons, apparently supervised by Farrakhan.) Each advanced his cause in imaginative ways – for example, Farrakhan married two of his daughters to Muhammad’s nephew and grandson. But when Elijah Muhammad finally died in February 1975, Wallace hurriedly called a news conference and announced that his father had appointed him sole successor.”

But Wallace was soon sovershadowed by even more avaricious “men of the cloth”.

Next time: Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

The “Black Power” Movement

Partially in response to the urban riots, in late October 1966 in Oakland, CA, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party, or BPP (originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense), a revolutionary, para-military, black-nationalist and socialist organization that was mired in violence and murder and remained active in the United States from 1966 until 1982. At the time, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover called the party “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country.” Black Panther Party membership reached a peak in 1970, with offices in 68 cities and thousands of members, only to then suffer a series of predictable, self-inflicted contractions.

“Newton was born in Monroe, Louisiana in 1942. He was the youngest of seven children of Armelia Johnson and Walter Newton, a sharecropper and Baptist lay  preacher. His parents named him after former Governor of Louisiana, Huey Long. In 1945, the family migrated to Oakland, California, as part of the second wave of the Great Migration of African-Americans out of the South to the Midwest and West. The Newton family was close-knit, but quite poor, and often relocated throughout the San Francisco Bay area during Newton’s childhood.

Growing up mostly in Oakland, Newton stated that he was “made to feel ashamed of being black” – an unusual statement during a period where the African-American population of Oakland increased by over 200% and the white population actually decreased by about 25%. Newton graduated from Oakland Technical High School in 1959, without being able to read, although he later taught himself; The Republic by Plato was the first book he read. Newton also attended Merritt College, San Francisco Law School, and the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and later, a Ph.D. 

 As a teenager, he was arrested several times for minor offenses, including gun possession and vandalism at age 14. Newton had been convicted of assault with a deadly weapon for repeatedly stabbing another man, Odell Lee, with a steak knife in mid-1964. He served six months in prison and by October 27–28, 1967, he was out celebrating release from his probationary period.

Just before dawn on that October 28, Newton and a friend were pulled over by Oakland Police Department officer John Frey. Realizing who Newton was – the founder of the Black Panthers, Frey called for backup. After fellow officer Herbert Heanes arrived, shots were fired, and all three were wounded. Heanes testified that the shooting began after Newton was under arrest, and one witness testified that Newton shot Frey with Frey’s own gun as they wrestled.

No gun on either Frey or Newton was found. Newton stated that Frey shot him first, which made him lose consciousness during the incident. Frey was shot four times and died within the hour, while Heanes was left in serious condition with three bullet wounds. Black Panther David Hilliard took Newton to Oakland’s Kaiser Hospital, where he was admitted with a bullet wound to the abdomen.

 Newton was convicted in September 1968 of voluntary manslaughter for the killing of Frey and was sentenced to 2 to 15 years in prison. In May 1970, the California Appellate Court reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial. After two subsequent trials ended in hung juries, the district attorney said he would not pursue a fourth trial, and the Alameda County Superior Court dismissed the charges.

In August 1974, Newton murdered Kathleen Smith, a black teenage prostitute. He fled to Cuba. Elaine Brown took over the leadership of the Black Panthers in his absence. In December 1974, accountant Betty van Patter was murdered after threatening to disclose irregularities in the Party’s finances.

By the late 1980s, relations between Newton and factions within the Black Guerilla Family (BGF) had been strained for nearly two decades. Former Black Panther members who became BGF members in prison had become disenchanted with Newton for his perceived abandonment of imprisoned Black Panther members and allegations of Newton’s fratricide within the party.

On August 22, 1989, Newton was fatally shot on Center Street in the Lower Bottoms neighborhood of West Oakland by 24-year-old BGF member and drug dealer Tyrone Robinson shortly after Newton left a crack house Robinson said that Newton pulled a gun when the two met at the street corner, but Oakland police officers found no evidence that Newton had been armed. Robinson shot Newton twice in the face.

Huey Newton was interred at Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland. Tyrone Robinson was convicted of the murder in 1991. He was sentenced to a prison term of 32 years to life in prison.

Bobby Seale was born in Liberty, Texas  to George Seale, a carpenter, and Thelma Seale (née Traylor), a homemaker. The Seale family lived in poverty during most of Bobby Seale’s early life. After moving around Texas, first to Dallas, then to San Antonio and finally Port Arthur, his family eventually relocated to Oakland, CA when he was eight years old. Seale attended Berkeley  High School, then dropped out and joined the U.S. Air Force in 1955. He was discharged for bad conduct three years after joining for fighting with a commanding officer at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota.

After finally earning his high school diploma, Seale attended Merritt College in Oakland until 1962 where he studied engineering and politics. While in college, he joined the Afro-American Association (AAA), a group on campus devoted to advocating black separatism. “I wanted to be an engineer when I went to college, but I got shifted right away since I became interested in American Black History and trying to solve some of the problems.”  Through this AAA group, Seale met Huey Newton.

Bobby Seale was one of the original “Chicago Eight” defendants charged with conspiracy and inciting a riot, in the wake of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The evidence against Seale was slim as he was a last-minute replacement for Eldridge Cleaver and had been in Chicago for only two days of the convention. On November 5, 1969, Judge Julius Hoffman sentenced him to four years in prison for 16 counts of contempt, each count accounting for three months of his imprisonment, because of his outbursts, and eventually ordered Seale severed from the case, hence the “Chicago Seven”. 

During the trial, one of Seale’s many outbursts led the judge to have him bound and gagged, as commemorated in the song “Chicago” written by Graham Nash. While in prison, he stated, “To be a Revolutionary is to be an enemy of the state. To be arrested for this struggle is to be a political prisoner.” 

While serving his four-year sentence, Seale was put on trial again in 1970 in the New Haven Black Panther trials. Several officers of the Panther organization had murdered a fellow Panther, Alex Rackley, who had confessed under torture to being a police informant. The leader of the murder plan, George Sams, Jr., turned state’s evidence and testified that he had been ordered to kill Rackley by Seale himself, who had visited New Haven only hours before the murder.

The New Haven trials were accompanied by a large demonstration in New Haven on May Day, 1970, which coincided with the beginning of the American College Student Strike of 1970. The jury was unable to reach a verdict in Seale’s trial, and the charges were eventually dropped.

While he was in prison, Seale’s wife, Artie, became pregnant allegedly by fellow Panther Fred Bennett. Bennett’s murdered and mutilated remains were found in a suspected Panther hideout in April 1971. Seale was implicated in the murder with police suspecting he had ordered it in retaliation for the affair. However, no charges were pressed. Seale wrote an article titled, One Less Oppressor, that shows appreciation of the murder of Bennett and stated, “The people have now come to realize that the only way to deal with the oppressor is to deal on our own terms and this was done.”

In 1974 Seale and Huey Newton argued over a proposed movie about the Panthers that Newton wanted Bert Schneider to produce. According to several accounts the argument escalated to a fight where Newton, backed by his armed bodyguards, beat Seale with a bullwhip so badly that Seale required extensive medical treatment for his injuries, went into hiding for nearly a year, and ended his affiliation with the Party in 1974. Seale denied any such physical altercation took place, dismissing rumors that he and Newton were ever less than friends.

In 2002, Seale moved back to Oakland, working with young political advocates to influence social change. Seale has also visited over 500 colleges to share his personal experiences as a Black Panther and to give advice to students interested in community organizing and social justice – Barack Obama’s calling before he entered politics.

Early in Newton and Seale’s history together and dissatisfied with the failure of other organizations to directly challenge [alleged] police brutality and appeal to the “brothers on the block”, Newton and Seale sought to take matters into their own hands. Earlier, after the police killed Matthew Johnson, an unarmed young black man in San Francisco, Newton observed the violent rebellion that followed. He had an epiphany that would distinguish the Black Panther Party from the multitude of organizations seeking to build “Black Power”.

Newton saw the explosive, rebellious anger of the ghetto as a force, and believed that if he could stand up to the police, he could organize that force into political power. Like the Community Alert Patrol in Los Angeles after the “Watts Rebellion “, he decided to organize patrols to follow the police around to monitor for incidents of brutality. But with a crucial difference: his patrols would carry loaded guns.

On October 29, 1966, Stokely Carmichael – a leader of  the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee  (SNCC – pronounced “snick”) – championed the call for “Black Power” and came to Berkeley to keynote a Black Power conference. At the time, he was promoting the armed organizing efforts of the Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO) in Alabama and their use of the Black Panther symbol.

Newton and Seale decided to adopt the Black Panther logo and form their own organization called the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. Newton and Seale decided on a uniform of blue shirts, black pants, black leather jackets and black berets. Sixteen-year-old Bobby Hutton was their first recruit.

On April 7, 1968, the now seventeen-year-old Panther’s national treasurer, Bobby Hutton, was killed, and Eldridge Cleaver, Black Panther Party Minister of Information, was wounded in a shootout with the Oakland police. Two police officers were also shot. Although at the time, the BPP claimed that the police had ambushed them, several party members later admitted that Cleaver had led the Panther group on a deliberate ambush of the police officers, provoking the shootout. Seven other Panthers, including chief of staff David Hilliard, were also arrested.

 Provoked and incidental run-ins with law enforcement initially contributed to the growth of the party as killings and arrests of Panthers increased support for the party within the black community and on the broad political left – both of whom valued the Panthers as a powerful force opposed to  de facto segregatio – and the military!”

At the 1968 Summer Olympics, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, two American medalists, qualifying for the opportunity to compete at the Games by the United States Olympic Committee, disrespectfully, and in violation of Olympic rules, gave the Black Power salute during the playing of the American national anthem in Mexico City.

African-American sociologist Harry Edwards, the founder of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, had urged black athletes to boycott the games; reportedly, the actions of Smith and Carlos on October 16, 1968 were inspired by Edwards’ arguments. The International Olympic Committee banned them from the Olympic Games for life [probably at the insistence of the powerful head of the American Olymplc progrem, Avery Brundage].

“[North Vietnamese sympathizer and] Hollywood celebrity, “Hanoi Jane” Fonda publicly supported Huey Newton and the Black Panthers during the early 1970s. She and other Hollywood celebrities became involved in the Panthers’ leftist-oriented programs. The Panthers attracted a wide variety of left-wing revolutionaries, political activists and people looking for relevance in a turbulent age.

 Violent conflict between the Panther chapter in LA and the US Organization, a rival group, resulted in shootings and beatings, and led to the murders of at least four Black Panther Party members. On January 17, 1969, Los Angeles Panther Captain Bunchy Carter and Deputy Minister John Huggins were killed in Campbell Hall on the UCLA campus, in a gun battle with members of the US Organization. Another shootout between the two groups on March 17 led to further injuries. Two more Panthers died.

In Chicago, on December 4, 1969, two Panthers were killed when the Chicago police raided the home of Panther leader Fred Hampton. The raid had been orchestrated by the police in conjunction with the FBI. Hampton was shot and killed, as was Panther guard Mark Clark. A federal investigation reported that only one shot was fired by the Panthers, and police fired at least 80 shots. Hampton was subsequently shot twice in the head at point blank range while unconscious. He was 21 years old and unarmed at the time of his death.

Coroner reports show that Hampton was drugged with a powerful barbiturate that night and all indicators point toward FBI confidential informer and infiltrator William O’Neal as the source of the drugging. Cook County State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan, his assistant and eight Chicago police officers were indicted by a federal grand jury over the raid, but the charges were later dismissed. In a 1979 civil action, Hampton’s family won $1.85 million from the city of Chicago in a wrongful death settlement.

In May 1969, three members of the New Haven chapter tortured and murdered Alex Rackley, a 19-year-old member of the New York chapter, because they suspected him of being a police informant. Three party officers – Warren Kimbro, George Sams, Jr. and Lonnie McLucas – later admitted taking part. Sams, who gave the order to shoot Rackley at the murder scene, turned state’s evidence and testified that he had received orders personally from Bobby Seale to carry out the execution. Party supporters responded that Sams was himself the informant and an agent provocateur employed by the FBI. The case resulted in the New Haven, Connecticut Black Panther trials of 1970. Kimbro and Sams were convicted of the murder.

 In the 1970s, some Panther leaders, such as Huey Newton and David Hilliard, favored a focus on community service coupled with self-defense; others, such as Eldridge Cleaver, embraced a more confrontational strategy. Eldridge Cleaver deepened the schism in the party when he publicly criticized the Party for adopting a “reformist” rather than “revolutionary” agenda and called for Hilliard’s removal. Cleaver was expelled from the Central Committee but went on to lead a splinter group, the Black Liberation Army, which had previously existed as an underground paramilitary wing of the Party.

The split turned violent, as the Newton and Cleaver factions carried out retaliatory assassinations of each other’s members, resulting in the deaths of four people. In early 1974, Newton embarked on a major purge, expelling Bobby and John Seale, David and June Hilliard, Robert Bay, and numerous other top party leaders. Dozens of other Panthers loyal to Seale resigned or deserted.

In October 1977, Flores Forbes, the party’s assistant chief of staff, led a botched attempt to assassinate Crystal Gray, a key prosecution witness in Newton’s upcoming trial who had been present the day of prostitute Kathleen Smith’s murder years earlier. Unbeknownst to the assailants, they attacked the wrong house and the occupant returned fire. During the shootout one of the Panthers, Louis Johnson, was killed and the other two assailants escaped. 

 One of the two surviving assassins, Flores Forbes, fled to Las Vegas, Nevada, with the help of Panther paramedic Nelson Malloy. Fearing that Malloy would discover the truth behind the botched assassination attempt, Newton allegedly ordered a “house cleaning”, and Malloy was shot and buried alive in the desert. Although permanently paralyzed from the waist down, Malloy recovered from the assault and told police that fellow Panthers Rollin Reid and Allen Lewis were behind his attempted murder.

 Survival committees and coalitions were organized with several groups across the United States. Chief among these was the Rainbow Coalition formed by Fred Hampton and the Chicago Black Panthers – later to be run by [future extortionist extraordinaireJesse Jackson. 

Popular support for the Party declined further after reports appeared detailing the group’s involvement in illegal activities such as drug dealing and extortion schemes directed against Oakland merchants. By 1972, most Panther activity centered on the national headquarters and a school in Oakland, where the party continued to influence local politics.

 The Black Panther Party experienced significant problems in several chapters with sexism and gender oppression, particularly in the Oakland chapter where cases of sexual harassment and gender division were common. When Oakland Panthers arrived to bolster the New York City Panther chapter after New York Twenty-One leaders were incarcerated, they displayed such chauvinistic attitudes towards New York Panther women that they had to be fended off at gunpoint. Some Party leaders thought the fight for gender equality was a threat to men and a distraction from the struggle for racial equality.”

 Scholars have characterized the Black Panther Party as the most influential black movement organization of the late 1960s, and “the strongest link between the domestic Black Liberation Struggle and global opponents of American imperialism.” Other commentators have described the Party as more criminal than political, characterized by “defiant posturing over substance.” Others have described them as the “gang who could shoot straight but couldn’t think straight.”

After Dr. King’s death, the slow but steady demise of the Black Panthers as a significant force in race relations in America left a power vacuum that was filled not by moral and ethical titans like Dr. King, Ralph Abernathy, Andrew Young and John Lewis or by violent thugs like the Black Panthers – but by race hustlers – those who sought to exploit racial tensions for their own gain – people like Elijah Muhammad (nee Elija Pool), Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

“Elijah Muhammad was an uncharismatic, inarticulate, long-lived, most influential African-American dissident. During his lifetime – he was born in 1897 and died in 1975 – he was a mysterious figure, the subject of rumor and innuendo. He told contradictory stories about himself, avoided the press, surrounded himself with a wall of bodyguards, and punished those who revealed information about him. But recent scholarship has pieced together his story, mostly thanks to law-enforcement records.

For, starting in 1932 and continuing for over four decades, police agencies kept extremely close tabs on him, including (as part of the controversial COINTELPRO program) by means of extensive FBI wiretaps and letter-openings. The resulting reports, now available to researchers in all their immensity – the FBI’s papers alone amount to well over a million pages – reveal the most intimate secrets of Elijah Muhammad’s household, his power struggles, and his personal and sexual escapades.

Two authors, both black, have done yeoman work culling these archives (as well as other relevant documents), and have produced impressively researched biographies of the man who liked to be called the Messenger of Allah. Claude Andrew Clegg III’s, An Original Man: The Life and Times of Elijah Muhammad appeared in 1997; a well-rounded biography by a professor of history, it is also perhaps the best book ever written on the Nation of Islam. Also, The Messenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad, by Karl Evanzz, a journalist at the Washington Post; depending heavily on the police files, Evanzz provides more new information but also a somewhat skewed picture, since he tends to neglect matters (like theology) with which the FBI did not concern itself.

As it happens, the two biographers disagree on a dismaying number of details, which suggests that much work on this topic remains to be done. In the main, though, their accounts complement each other and make it possible, for the first time, to understand who exactly Elijah Muhammad was.

Next time: Elijah Muhammad and Jesse Jackson.

The Civil Rights Movement

“In 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks, an African-American woman hand-picked by the NAACP, refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man. This staged act of civil disobedience was an important catalyst in the growth of the Civil Rights movement. Her famous action, and the demonstrations which it stimulated, led to a series of legislative and court decisions which contributed to undermining – and ultimately, destroying –  the Jim Crow system.

When Martin Luther King, Jr., spearheaded the Montgomery Bus Boycott following Parks’ action, it was not the first of its kind. Numerous boycotts and demonstrations against segregation had occurred throughout the 1930s and 1940s. These early demonstrations achieved positive results and helped spark political activism. 

The Montgomery campaign lasted from December 1, 1955 – when Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to surrender her seat to a white person – to December 20, 1956, when a federal ruling, Browder v. Gayle, took effect, and led to a United States Supreme Court decision that declared the Alabama and Montgomery laws requiring segregated buses to be unconstitutional.

Black activists had begun to build a case to challenge state bus segregation laws around the arrest of a 15-year-old girl, Claudette Colvin, a student at Booker T. Washington High School in Montgomery. On March 2, 1955, Colvin was handcuffed, arrested and forcibly removed from a public bus when she refused to give up her seat to a white man. At the time, Colvin was an active member in the NAACP Youth Council, a group to which Rosa Parks served as an advisor.

Twelve years before her history-making arrest, Parks was stopped from boarding a city bus by driver James F. Blake, who ordered her to board at the back door and then drove off without her. Parks vowed never again to ride a bus driven by Blake. In 1955, Parks completed a course in “Race Relations” at the Highlander Folk School in Middle Tennessee, founded as an adult education center, it was one of the few places in the South where integrated meetings could take place and where non-violent civil disobedience had been discussed as a tactic.

On December 1, 1955, Parks was sitting in the front-most row for black passengers. When a Caucasian man boarded the bus, the bus driver told everyone in her row to move back. At that moment, Parks realized that she was again on a bus driven by Blake. While all of the other black people in her row complied, Parks refused, and was arrested for failing to obey the driver’s seat assignments, as city ordinances did not explicitly mandate segregation but did give the bus driver authority to assign seats. Found guilty on December 5, Parks was fined $10 plus a court cost of $4, but she appealed.

Commenting on the event afterwards, Blake stated, “I wasn’t trying to do anything to that Parks woman except do my job. She was in violation of the city codes, so what was I supposed to do? That damn bus was full and she wouldn’t move back. I had my orders.”

On the night of Rosa Parks’ arrest, the Women’s Political Council printed and circulated a flyer throughout Montgomery’s black community that read as follows:

“Another woman has been arrested and thrown in jail because she refused to get up out of her seat on the bus for a white person to sit down. It is the second time since the Claudette case that a Negro woman has been arrested for the same thing. This has to be stopped. Negroes have rights too, for if Negroes did not ride the buses, they could not operate. Three-fourths of the riders are Negro, yet we are arrested, or have to stand over empty seats. If we do not do something to stop these arrests, they will continue. The next time it may be you, or your daughter, or mother. This woman’s case will come up on Monday. We are, therefore, asking every Negro to stay off the buses Monday in protest of the arrest and trial. Don’t ride the buses to work, to town, to school, or anywhere on Monday. You can afford to stay out of school for one day if you have no other way to go except by bus. You can also afford to stay out of town for one day. If you work, take a cab, or walk. But please, children and grown-ups, don’t ride the bus at all on Monday. Please stay off all buses Monday.”

On Saturday, December 3, it was evident that the black community would support the boycott, and very few blacks rode the buses that day. On December 5, a mass meeting was held to determine if the protest would continue. Given twenty minutes’ notice, Martin Luther King gave a speech asking for a bus boycott and attendees enthusiastically agreed. The boycott proved extremely effective, with enough riders lost to the city transit system to cause serious economic distress.

Martin Luther King later wrote “[a] miracle had taken place.” Instead of riding buses, boycotters organized a system of carpools, with car owners [even white car owners] volunteering their vehicles or themselves driving people to various destinations. Some white housewives also drove their black domestic servants to work. When the city pressured local insurance companies to stop insuring cars used in the carpools, the boycott leaders arranged policies with Lloyd’s of London, a company which once insured slave cargo ships.

Black taxi drivers charged ten cents per ride, a fare equal to the cost to ride the bus, in support of the boycott. When word of this reached city officials on December 8, the order went out to fine any cab driver who charged a rider less than 45 cents. In addition to using private motor vehicles, some people used non-motorized means to get around, such as cycling, walking, or even riding mules or driving horse-drawn buggies. Some people also hitchhiked. During rush hours, sidewalks were often crowded.

As the buses received few, if any, passengers, their officials asked the City Commission to allow stopping service to black communities. Across the nation, black churches raised money to support the boycott and collected new and slightly used shoes to replace the tattered footwear of Montgomery’s black citizens, many of whom walked everywhere rather than ride the buses and submit to Jim Crow laws.

In response, opposing whites swelled the ranks of the White Citizen’s Council, the membership of which doubled during the course of the boycott. The councils sometimes resorted to violence: King’s and Abernathy’s houses were firebombed, as were four black Baptist churches. Boycotters were often physically attacked.

Pressure increased across the country. The related civil suit was heard in federal district court and on June 4, 1956, the court ruled in Browder v. Gayle that Alabama’s racial segregation laws for buses were unconstitutional. As the state appealed the decision, the boycott continued. The case moved on to the  United States Supreme Court. On November 13, 1956, the Supreme Court upheld the district court’s ruling, issuing its decision in December, followed quickly by a court order to the State to desegregate the buses.

The boycott officially ended December 20, 1956, after 381 days. The city passed an ordinance authorizing black bus passengers to sit virtually anywhere they chose on buses. The Montgomery Bus Boycott resounded far beyond the desegregation of public buses. It stimulated activism and participation from the South in the national civil rights movement and gave King national attention as a rising leader.

White backlash against the court victory was quick, brutal, and, in the short-term, effective. Rosa Parks left Montgomery due to death threats and employment blacklisting. According to Charles Silberman, “…by 1963, most Negroes in Montgomery had returned to the old custom of riding in the back of the bus.”

The actual bus ridden by Rosa Parks that fateful day has been restored and is on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI. The bus driver, James F. Blake, worked for the bus lines for another 19 years and died in 2002 at age 89.”

As the Civil Rights Movement matured, Nashville, TN – appropriately enough as the first State capital to be captured in the last State to secede from the Union and the first to return – became its intellectual center. The Nashville sit-ins, which lasted from February 13 to May 10, 1960, were part of a nonviolent direct action campaign to end racial segregation at lunch counters in downtown Nashville. The sit-in campaign, coordinated at Fisk University by the Nashville Student Movement and Nashville Christian Leadership Council, was notable for its early success and emphasis on disciplined non-violence.

“From March 26 – 28, 1958, the NCLC held the first of many workshops on using non-violent tactics to challenge segregation. These workshops were led by James Lawson, who had studied the principles of non-violent resistence while working as a missionary in India during the time when the Mahatma Ghandi was leading India to independence from Britain by preaching non-violent protest. The workshops were mainly attended by students from Fisk Univeersity, Tennessee A&I (later Tennessee State University), American Baptist Theological Seminary (later American Baptist College), and Meharry Medical College. Among those attending Lawson’s sessions were students who would become significant leaders in the Civil Rights Movement, among them: Marian Barry, John Lewis and Diane Nash. 

During these workshops it was decided that the first target for the group’s actions would be downtown lunch counters. At the time, African Americans could shop in downtown stores but were not allowed to eat in the stores’ restaurants. The group felt that the lunch counters were a good objective because they were highly visible, easily accessible, and provided a stark example of the injustices black Southerners faced every day.

In late 1959, James Lawson and other members of the NCLC’s projects committee met with department store owners Fred Harvey and John Sloan, and asked them to voluntarily serve African-Americans at their lunch counters. Both men declined, saying that they would lose more business than they would gain. The students then began doing reconnaissance for sit-in demonstrations. The first test took place at Harvey’s Department Store in downtown Nashville on November 28, followed by the Cain-Sloan store on December 5.

During the first week of February 1960, a small sit-in demonstration in Greensboro, North Carolina grew into a significant protest with over eighty students participating by the third day. Although similar demonstrations had occurred previously in other cities, this was the first to attract substantial media attention and public notice.

The first large-scale organized sit-in was in Nashville on Saturday, February 13, 1960. At about 12:30 pm, 124 students, most of them black, walked into the  downtown Woolworths, S.H. Kress and McClellan, and stores and asked to be served at the lunch counters. After the staff refused to serve them, they sat in the stores for two hours and then left without incident.

Over the course of the campaign, sit-ins were staged at numerous stores in Nashville’s central business district. Sit-in participants, who consisted mainly of black college students, were often verbally or physically attacked by white onlookers. Despite their refusal to retaliate, over 150 students were eventually arrested for refusing to vacate store lunch counters when ordered to do so by police.

At trial, the students were represented by a group of 13 lawyers, headed by Z. Alexander Looby. On April 19, Looby’s home was bombed; however, neither he nor his wife was injured. More than 140 windows in a nearby college dormitory were broken by the blast. Later that day, nearly 4000 people marched to City Hall to confront Mayor Ben West about the escalating violence. When asked by Fisk University student Diane Nash if he believed the lunch counters in Nashville should be desegregated, West agreed that they should. [The dam had been breached.]

After subsequent negotiations between the store owners and protest leaders, an agreement was reached during the first week of May. On May 10, six downtown stores began serving black customers at their lunch counters for the first time.

The day after the bombing Martin Luther King, Jr. came to Nashville to speak at Fisk University. During the speech, he praised the Nashville sit-in movement as “the best organized and the most disciplined in the Southland.” He further stated that he came to Nashville “not to bring inspiration but to gain inspiration from the great movement that has taken place in this community.”

The customers arrived in groups of two or three during the afternoon and were served without incident. At the same time, African-Americans ended their six-week-old boycott of the downtown stores. The plan continued successfully and the rest of the city’s lunch counters were integrated without any further incidents of violence. Nashville thus became the first major city in the South to begin desegregating its public facilities.

Although the initial campaign successfully desegregated downtown lunch counters, sit-ins, pickets, and protests against other segregated facilities continued in Nashville until passage of the  Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ended overt, legally sanctioned segregation nationwide. Many of the organizers of the Nashville sit-ins went on to become important leaders in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.

In January 1964, Democrat President Lyndon Johnson met with civil rights leaders. On January 8, during his first State of the Union address, Johnson asked Congress to “let this session of Congress be known as the session which did more for civil rights than the last hundred sessions combined.”

On June 21, 1964, young, white, civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and African-American James Chaney disappeared in Neshoba County, Mississippi, where they were volunteering in the registration of African-American voters as part of the Mississippi Summer Project. The disappearance of the three activists captured national attention and the ensuing outrage was used by President Johnson and civil rights activists to build a coalition of northern Democrats and Republicans and push Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The most fervent opposition to the bill came from Democrats, especially Senator Strom Thurmond (D-SC): “This so-called Civil Rights Proposals, which the President has sent to Capitol Hill for enactment into law, are unconstitutional, unnecessary, unwise and extend beyond the realm of reason. This is the worst civil-rights package ever presented to the Congress and is reminiscent of the Reconstruction proposals and actions of the radical Republican Congress.”

After 54 days of filibuster, Senators Everett Dirkson (R-IL), Thomas Kuchel (R-CA), Hubert Humphrey (D-MN), and Mike Mansfield (D-MT) introduced a substitute bill that they hoped would attract enough Republican swing votes to end the Democrat filibuster. The compromise bill was weaker than the House version in regard to government power to regulate the conduct of private business, but it was not so weak as to cause the House to reconsider the legislation.

On the morning of June 10, 1964, former Ku Klux Klan organizer in his home State, Senator Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) completed a filibustering address that he had begun 14 hours and 13 minutes earlier opposing the legislation. Until then, the measure had occupied the Senate for 57 working days, including six Saturdays. A day earlier, Democratic Whip Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, the bill’s manager, concluded he had the 67 votes required at that time to end the debate and end the filibuster. With six wavering senators providing a four-vote victory margin, the final tally stood at 71 to 29. Senator Humphrey would be the Democrat candidate for President in 1968. Senator Byrd would twice become the Democrat Senate Majority Leader

Never in history had the Senate been able to muster enough votes to cut off a filibuster on a civil rights bill. And only once in the 37 years since 1927 had it agreed to cloture for any measure.  On June 19, the substitute (compromise) bill passed the Senate by a vote of 73–27, and quickly passed through the House-Senate conference committee, which adopted the Senate version of the bill. The conference bill was passed by both houses of Congress.

On July 2, 1964, Johnson signed the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964. It invoked the commerce clause to outlaw discrimination in public accommodations (privately owned restaurants, hotels, and stores, and in private schools and workplaces). This use of the commerce clause was upheld in Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States (1964).

By 1965, efforts to break the grip of State voter disfranchisement had been under way for some time, but had achieved only modest success overall and in some areas had proved almost entirely ineffectual. The murder of the three voting-rights activists in Mississippi in 1964 and the State’s refusal to prosecute the murderers, along with numerous other acts of violence and terrorism against blacks, had gained national attention.

Finally, the unprovoked attack on March 7, 1965, by state troopers on peaceful marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama en route to the state capitol in Montgomery, which received nationwide attention via television newscasts, finally persuaded the President and Congress  – for their own political survival – to overcome Southern legislators’ resistance to effective voting rights enforcement legislation. President Johnson issued a call for a strong voting rights law and hearings soon began on the bill that would become the Voting Rights Act.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 ended legally sanctioned State barriers to voting for all federal, State and local elections. It also provided for federal oversight and monitoring of counties with historically low minority voter turnout, as this was a sign of discriminatory barriers.

With the passage of The Voting Rights Act of 1965, the legal status of African-Americans in the United States achieved parity with all other citizens. The African-American community had shown the entire world what intelligence, courage, discipline, passion and common sense could do in a righteous cause.  Working together, black and white, side-by-side, America had reached its cultural zenith.

The fulfillment of the declaration that “all men are created equal…” was at hand – all any citizen of this country had to do was to reach out and grab the opportunity finally guaranteed by the Constitution to all of “The People”. And what opportunity there was! In that same year, President Lyndon Johnson pushed through the most liberal Congress of the 20th Century the “Great Society” legislation to support his “War on Poverty”. No one in the liberal-Democrat majority at the time foresaw their disastrous effects on the African-American community.

The federal government now assumed financial responsibility for national education from elementary school through college with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Higher Education Act, the National Defense Education Act and the Bilingual Education Act. Massive new spending on Medicare, Medicaid and welfare under the Social Security System were passed. The Urban Mass Transportation Act would provide subsidized transportation for the poor as well as the Demonstration Cities Act which would provide subsidized urban housing. The Public Works and Economic Development Act and the 1964 Economic Opportunity Act provided government supported jobs in rural areas and the Fair Labor Standards Act increased the minimum wage for tens of millions of workers.”

This was the largest federal government power grab in American history that within 50 years would create an incomprehensible national debt of over $20 trillion and a personal debt for each taxpaying citizen of almost $175,000!

This was nirvana for progressive/liberals! All of their dreams for a society governed from Washington, DC had come true. Their plans and programs, developed by their best and brightest minds over decades of struggle, had been legislated into the law of the land. The land of milk and honey was in sight and “Happy Days Were Here Again”. Then the fatal flaw became apparent. There were no leaders in the PLDC to extol the masses to get up and get moving toward the new world of opportunity and to accept a new responsibility to be productive with their new found freedom.

“Unfortunately, for all of the frenetic activity in Washington, victory over poverty didn’t happen. Concerned with the success in the Civil Rights Movement and the ascension of Dr. Martin Luther King – and his programs of non-violent confrontation, to national, if not international, stature – a number of ambitious, charismatic, cynical, opportunistic and self-styled African-American “leaders” turned their attention to their own agendas – personal fame and fortune at the expense of the black masses – and turned to morally questionable methods to achieve them after Dr. King’s assassination in April 1968.

Simultaneously, as noted African-American economist, social theorist, political philosopher and author Thomas Sowell argues, “…the Great Society programs only contributed to the destruction of African-American families, saying ‘the black family, which had survived centuries of slavery and discrimination, began rapidly disintegrating in the liberal welfare state that subsidized unwed pregnancy and changed welfare from an emergency rescue to a way of life.’”

“The catalyst for the new confrontational approach to race relations in America were the spontaneous race riots that had occurred in major American cities beginning in the blistering hot summer of 1964 – fomented by the new, alleged, leaders of the civil rights movement.

In 1964, North Philadelphia was the city’s center of African-American culture, and home to 400,000 of the city’s 600,000 black residents. The Philadelphia Police Department had tried to improve its relationship with the city’s black community assigning police to patrol black neighborhoods in teams of one black and one white officer per squad car and having a civilian review board to handle cases of alleged police brutality.

Despite the improvement attempts of the Philadelphia Police Department, racial tensions had been high in Philadelphia over the issue of alleged police brutality. The Philadelphia Tribune, the city’s black-owned newspaper, ran several articles on alleged police brutality which often resulted in white policemen, who were, apparently inappropriately, brought up on charges of brutality, being acquitted. [Fast forward to Ferguson, MO and Baltimore, MD, circa 2015-16, to find the same false-premise “mob-rule” conditions being ignorantly repeated.]

The summer of 1964 however, was the peak of the civil rights movement, with legal victories bringing a new sense of power and entitlement – unfortunately resulting in riots breaking out in black areas of other northern cities such as New York, Rochester, Jersey City and Elizabeth, NJ caused by incidents relating to alleged and eventually unproven, police brutality against black citizens.

The unrest in Philadelphia began on the evening of August 28 after a black woman named Odessa Bradford got into an argument with two police officers, one black, Robert Wells, and the other white, John Hoff, after her car stalled at 23rd Street and Columbia Avenue. Because Bradford’s car had stalled, and she was unable to drive it, an argument between her and the two officers ensued. The officers then tried to physically remove Bradford from the car. As the argument went on, a large crowd assembled in the area. A man tried to come to Bradford’s aid by attacking the police officers at the scene, both he and Bradford were arrested.

Rumors then spread throughout North Philadelphia that a pregnant black woman had been beaten to death by white police officers. Bradford, of course, was neith pregnant, beaten nor dead. Later that evening, and throughout the next two days, angry black mobs  looted and burned mostly white-owned businesses in North Philadelphia, mainly along Columbia Avenue. Outnumbered, the police response was to withdraw from the area rather than aggressively confront the rioters. Any logical or coherent connection between the false rumor – which could have been easily disproven by a responsible press – and the looting has escaped historical discovery and understanding.

Although no one was killed, 341 people were injured, 774 people were arrested and 225 stores were damaged or destroyed in the three days of rioting. Some of the tension was attributable to religion, with Nation of Islam Muslims and black nationalists pitted against Martin Luther King supporting Black Baptist ministers such as Cecil B Moore, who called for calm.

The problem was that Moore’s aggressive manner and confrontational tactics alienated many leaders, black and white, including many within the NAACP who preferred negotiation “behind closed doors” over direct action. Moore himself acknowledged how his military service shaped his grassroots activism:

“I was determined when I got back [from World War II combat] that what rights I didn’t have I was going to take, using every weapon in the arsenal of democracy. After nine years in the Marine Corps, I don’t intend to take another order from any son of a bitch that walk.”

Race relations, [nationally], continued to deteriorate over the next year [due, in great part, to intemperate and incompetent reporting by a clearly intimidated national press] and, in August 1965 tensions boiled over in the Watts neighborhood in Los Angeles, CA.

Growing tension between [militant] blacks and [threatened] whites, and between [undermanned] police and [uncomfortable] civilians added fuel to the fire. The final straw was when a white California Highway Patrol officer pulled over and arrested a black man for apparently driving while drunk, but the growing crowd of witnesses soon turned antagonistic.

 The mob grew angry, and when the CHP officer wound up arresting the man’s brother (also in the car) and mother, full-fledged riots broke out in that section of town. Fires, violence, and looting were rampant for days, and the riots would be the biggest in L.A. history until those in 1992 which were ignited by the “Rodney King Affair”. The National Guard eventually was ordered in to help. At the end of the spree, 34 people were dead, more than 2,000 injured, and almost 4,000 arrested.

 The Ghandi inspired and Martin Luther King led non-violent American Civil Rights Movement, that had been so successful in making all Americans equal before the law, was about to self-destruct just as it was achieving its highest goals. It would succumb to angry African-American self-styled militants who were tired of King’s patient and successful leadership and saw an opportunity to seize loyalty by intimidation through “Black Power” and haughty self-important liberal-Democrat politicians who saw an opportunity to claim that success for themselves by buying African-American loyalty through the “Welfare State”.

Next time: The “Black Power” Movement

No More “Separate But Equal”

“This Progressivist worldview rendered black intellectuals – just like their white counterparts – unprepared for the rude shock of the Great Depression, and the Harlem Renaissance began a precipitous decline because of naive assumptions about the centrality of culture, unrelated to economic and social realities. The movement of African-Americans toward the American middle-class just did not have enough time to mature – much as the historical immigrant experience in America, which has historically taken several generations to assimilate into the mainstream and for the mainstream to make accommodations for the immigrants. An additional hurdle for African-Americans was the insular, entrenched racism of the Jim Crow Democrat American South.”

The great tragedy is that if the Great Depression had not occurred when it did, the African-American middle-class might very well have made it into the mainstream of American culture by the time World War II began for America on December 7, 1941. The seeds for that conflict had already been planted by 1932 when the Empire of Japan was already engaged in a war of conquest in Manchuria on the Asian mainland and Germans had already elected Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany.

During the war, African-Americans again distinguished themselves in combat, most particularly the Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American military aviators in the United States armed forces. During World War II, black Americans in many U.S. States were still subject to the Jim Crow laws – especially since many training bases were located in the South because of the better weather – and the American military was racially segregated, as was much of the federal government. All black military pilots who trained in the United States trained at remote Moton Field and Tuskegee Army Air Field, located near Tuskegee, Alabama.

The budding flight program at Tuskegee received a publicity boost when First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt inspected it in March 1941, and flew with African-American chief civilian instructor C. Alfred “Chief” Anderson. Anderson, who had been flying since 1929, and was responsible for training thousands of rookie pilots, took his prestigious passenger on a half-hour flight in a Waco biplane. After landing, she cheerfully announced, “Well, you can fly all right.” The First lady used her position as a trustee of the Julius Rosenwald Fund to arrange a loan of $175,000 to help finance the building of Moton Field.

In all, 992 pilots were trained in Tuskegee from 1941 to 1946, 355 were deployed overseas, and 84 lost their lives in accidents or combat. The toll included 68 pilots killed in action or accidents, 12 killed in training and non-combat missions and 32 captured as prisoners of war. The Tuskegee Airmen were credited by higher commands with the following accomplishments:

1578 combat missions, 1267 for the Twelfth Air Force; 311 for the Fifteenth Air Force;

179 bomber escort missions, with a good record of protection – the group encountered enemy aircraft on 35 missions and lost bombers to enemy aircraft on only seven;with total losses of only 27 bombers, compared to an average of 46 among other 15AF P-51 groups.

112 enemy aircraft destroyed in the air, another 150 on the ground and 148 damaged

950 rail cars, trucks and other motor vehicles destroyed (over 600 rail cars)

One German destroyer put out of action and finally scuttled it on February 5, 1945.

40 boats and barges destroyed

Awards and decorations included:

Three Distinguished Unit Citations 

99th Pursuit Squadron: 30 May–11 June 1943 for actions over Sicily

99th Fighter Squadron: 12–14 May 1944: for successful air strikes against Monte Casino, Italy

332nd Fighter Group (and its 99th, 100th, 301st, and 302nd Fighter Squadrons): 24 March 1945: for a bomber escort mission to Berlin, during which it shot down 3 enemy jet-fighter aircraft.

At least one Silver Star 

96 Distinguished Flying Crosses to 95 Airmen; Captain William A. Campbell was awarded two.

14 Bronze Star Medals

744 Air Medals 

8 Purple Heart Medals

After segregation in the military was ended in 1948 by President Harry Truman with Executive Order 9981, the veteran Tuskegee Airmen now found themselves in high demand throughout the newly formed United States Air Force. On May 11, 1949, Air Force Letter 35.3 was published, which mandated that black American airmen be screened for reassignment to formerly all-white units according to qualifications.

Tuskegee Airmen were instrumental in postwar developments in aviation. Edward A. Gibbs was a civilian flight instructor in the U.S. Aviation Cadet Program at Tuskegee during its inception. He later became the founder of  Negro Airmen International, an association joined by many airmen. USAF General Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr. (then Lt.) was an instructor of the 99th Pursuit Squadron, later a fighter pilot in Europe, and in 1975, became the first African-American to reach the rank of  four-star general. 

On March 29, 2007, the Tuskegee Airmen were collectively awarded a Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony in the  U.S. Capitol rotunda. The medal is currently on display at the Smithsonian Institution. The airfield where the airmen trained is now the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site. 

After World War II, African-Americans increasingly challenged segregation, as they believed they had more than earned the right to be treated as full citizens because of their military service and sacrifices. As the Civil Rights Movement gained momentum, they used federal courts to attack Jim Crow statutes, the white-dominated Democrat controlled governments of many of the southern States countered by passing alternative forms of restrictions.

The Supreme Court outlawed some forms of private discrimination in Shelley v. Kraemer (1948), in which it held that restrictive covenants that prohibited rentals or sales of homes to blacks or other racially described groups were unconstitutional, because they represented state-sponsored discrimination, in that they were only effective if the courts enforced them.

The Supreme Court was unwilling, however, to attack other forms of private discrimination. It reasoned that private parties did not violate the  Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution when they discriminated because they were not “state actors” covered by that clause. But, in 1971, the Supreme Court, in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, upheld desegregation-busing of students to achieve integration [in what turned out to be a terrible idea that will be discussed later].

In 1951, the NAACP Legal Defense Committee (a group that became independent of the NAACP) – and its lawyer, Thurgood Marshall – brought the landmark case, Oliver Brown et al. v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas”, before the Supreme Court.

In its pivotal 1954 decision, the Court unanimously overturned the 1896 Plessy decision. The Supreme Court found that legally mandated (de jure) public school segregation was unconstitutional. The decision had far-reaching social ramifications but de jure segregation was not brought to an end until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In late 1951, the class action suit was filed against the Board of Education of the City of Topeka, Kansas in the  United States District Court for the District of Kansas, now known as “Brown v. Board of Education” and was named after Oliver Brown as a legal strategy to have a man at the head of the roster. The plaintiffs were thirteen Topeka parents on behalf of their 20 children recruited by the leadership of the NAACP.

The suit called for the school district to reverse its policy of racial segregation. The Topeka Board of Education operated separate elementary schools under an 1879 Kansas law, which permitted (but did not require) districts to maintain separate elementary school facilities for black and white students in 12 communities with populations over 15,000.

The named plaintiff, Oliver L. Brown, was a parent, a welder in the shops of the Santa Fe Railroad, an assistant pastor at his local church, and an African-American. He was convinced to join the lawsuit by a childhood friend. Brown’s daughter Linda, a third grader, had to walk six blocks to her school bus stop to ride to Monroe Elementary, her segregated black school one mile away, while Sumner Elementary, a white school, was only seven blocks from her house.

As directed by the NAACP leadership, the parents each attempted to enroll their children in the closest neighborhood school in the fall of 1951. They were each refused enrollment and directed to the segregated schools. 

In December 1952, the Justice Department filed a friend of the court brief in the case. The brief was unusual in its heavy emphasis on foreign-policy considerations of the Truman Administration in a case ostensibly about domestic issues. Of the seven pages covering “the interest of the United States,” five focused on the way school segregation hurt the United States in the Cold War competition for the friendship and allegiance of non-white peoples in countries then gaining independence from colonial rule. 

In the spring of 1953, the Court heard the case but was unable to decide the issue and asked to rehear the case in the fall of 1953, with special attention to whether the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause prohibited the operation of separate public schools for whites and blacks.

The case was being re-argued at the behest of Associate Justice Felix Frankfurter, who used re-argument as a stalling tactic, to allow the Court to gather a consensus around a Brown opinion that would outlaw segregation. The justices in support of desegregation spent much effort convincing those who initially intended to dissent to join a unanimous opinion. Although the legal effect would be same for a majority rather than unanimous decision, it was felt that dissent could be used by segregation supporters as a legitimizing counter-argument.

While all but one justice personally rejected segregation, the judicial restraint faction questioned whether the Constitution gave the Court the power to order its end. The activist faction believed the 14th Amendment did give the necessary authority and were pushing to go ahead. The Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower Chief Justice nominee and former California governor Earl Warren, who held only a recess apointment, held his tongue until the Senate confirmed his appointment.

Warren convened a meeting of the justices, and presented to them the simple argument that the only reason to sustain segregation was an honest belief in the inferiority of African-Americans. Warren further submitted that the Court must overrule Plessy to maintain its legitimacy as an institution of liberty, and it must do so unanimously to avoid massive Southern resistance. He began to build a unanimous consensus.

Although most justices were immediately convinced, Warren spent some time convincing everyone to sign onto the opinion. Justices Jackson and Reed finally decided to drop their dissent. The final decision was unanimous. Warren drafted the basic opinion and kept circulating and revising it until he had an opinion endorsed by all the members of the Court.

The key holding of the Court was that, even if segregated black and white schools were of equal quality in facilities and teachers, segregation by itself was harmful to black students and unconstitutional. They found that a significant psychological and social disadvantage was given to black children from the nature of segregation itself. This aspect was vital because the question was not whether the schools were “equal” which, under Plessy, they nominally should have been, but whether the doctrine of “separate but equal” was constitutional. The justices answered with a strong “no”:

“We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Curiously, the Topeka middle schools had been integrated since 1941. Topeka High School was integrated from its inception in 1871 and its sports teams from 1949 on. The Kansas law permitting segregated schools allowed them only “below the high school level.”

Soon after the district court decision, election outcomes and the political climate in Topeka changed. The Board of Education of Topeka began to end segregation in the Topeka elementary schools in August 1953, integrating two attendance districts. All the Topeka elementary schools were changed to neighborhood attendance centers in January 1956, although existing students were allowed to continue attending their prior assigned schools at their option. Monroe Elementary was designated a U.S. National Historic Site unit of the National Park Service on October 26, 1992.

Not everyone accepted the Brown v. Board of Education decision. In Virginia, Democrat Senator Harry F. Byrd, Sr. organized the “Massive Resistance” movement that included the closing of schools rather than desegregating them. Texas Attorney General and Democrat John Ben Shepperd organized a campaign to generate legal obstacles to implementation of desegregation.

Even a key sponsor of legislation [Arkansas’ Democrat Senator J. William Fulbright] establishing the Fullbright Program in 1946 – a program of educational grants, Fulbright Fellowships and Fulbright Scholarships sponsored by the Bureau of Education of the United States Department of State, foreign governments and the private sector, which was established to increase mutual understanding between the peoples of the United States and other countries through the exchange of persons, knowledge, and skills and considered one of the most prestigious award programs operating in 155 countries   also signed the “Southern Manifesto” opposing the Brown v. Board of  Education decision. He subsequently joined with his fellow Southern Democrats in filibustering the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as voting against the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In 1957, Arkansas’ Democrat Governor Orval Faubus called out his State’s  National Guard  to block black students’ entry to  Little Rock Central High School. Republican President Dwight Eisenhower responded by deploying elements of the 101st Airborne Division, from Fort Campbell, KY/TN to Arkansas and by federalizing Arkansas’ National Guard in order to desegregate the school.

In 1963, Alabama’s Democrat Governor George Wallace personally blocked the door to Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama to prevent the enrollment of two black students. This became the infamous “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door where Wallace personally backed his “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” policy that he had stated in his 1963 inaugural address.  He moved aside only when confronted by General Henry Graham of the Alabama National Guard, who was ordered by Democrat President John F. Kennedy to intervene.

In North Carolina, there was often a strategy of nominally accepting Brown, but tacitly resisting it. On May 18, 1954, Greensboro, North Carolina became the first city in the South to publicly announce that it would abide by the Brown ruling. However, the city put up legal obstacles to the actual implementation of school desegregation for years afterward, and in 1969, the federal government found the city was not in compliance with the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Transition to a fully integrated school system did not begin until 1971, after numerous local lawsuits and both nonviolent and violent demonstrations. 

Many Northern cities also had de facto segregation policies resulting from historic demographic realities of self-segregated neighborhoods – when blacks moved in, whites moved out, which resulted in a vast gulf in educational resources between black and white communities. In Harlem, New York for example, where a large proportion of property was owned by white taxpayers to whom elected officials were beholden, not a single new school had been built since the turn of the 20th Century. Northern officials were in denial that segregation created inferior education, but Brown helped stimulate activism among African-American parents like Mae Mallory who, with support of the NAACP, initiated a successful lawsuit against the City and State of New York on Brown’s principles.

Mallory and thousands of other parents bolstered the pressure of the lawsuit with a school boycott in 1959. During the boycott, some of the first freedom schools of the period were established. The city, realizing that lower school attendance would mean the loss of federal funds, responded to the campaign by permitting more open transfers to high-quality, historically-white schools.

In 1978, Topeka, Kansas attorneys persuaded an original Brown plaintiff, Linda Brown Smith – who now had her own children in Topeka schools – to be a plaintiff in reopening Brown. They were concerned that the Topeka Public Schools’ policy of “open enrollment” had led to, and would lead, to further segregation. They also believed that with a choice of open enrollment, white parents would shift their children to “preferred” schools that would again create both predominantly African-American and predominantly European-American schools within the district.

The district court reopened the Brown case after a 25-year hiatus, but denied the plaintiffs’ request, finding the schools “unitary”. In 1989, a three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit on 2–1 vote found that the vestiges of segregation remained with respect to student and staff assignment. In 1993, the Supreme Court denied the appellant School District’s request for a certiari (a formal ruling) and returned the case to District Court for implementation of the Tenth Circuit’s mandate.

After a 1994 plan was approved and a bond issue passed, additional elementary magnet schools were opened and district attendance plans were redrawn, which resulted in the Topeka schools meeting court standards of racial balance by 1998. Unified status was eventually granted to Topeka Unified School District No. 501 on July 27, 1999 – 45 years after Brown.”

No responsible or sane person has ever argued that slavery did not exist in America. This entire chapter reeks with the stench of man’s inhumanity to man. But it also carries the fragrance of good will – the good will of millions of European-Americans who worked tirelessly for almost two hundred years to remove any and all vestiges of the “peculiar institution” and the hundreds of thousands who gave, in Lincoln’s words, their “last full measure of devotion” to the cause.

The institutional remnants of slavery in America were dead and buried by the end of the 1960’s. Did some vestiges of racial hatred remain? Yes. Were racial tensions extinguished? No. Were there still racists free in society. Of course – black and white and brown and yellow and red. But, no slaves remained. Nor did any slave owners or traffickers – black or white. America’s cultural institutions were now constructed from the fabric of equal rights and equal opportunities for all Americans. It was time to let go and get going!

The grieving process should have begun then with a national discussion considering the five steps of grieving – Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression & Acceptance. (The analogy is not perfect but provides a template for discussion.)

 These are the five stages of normal grief that were first proposed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book “On Death and Dying.” The timing was almost miraculous but the opportunity was missed and much of the African-American community has been stuck in the anger stage ever since. Remember, grieving is a personal process that has no time limit, nor one “right” way to do it. It was now time to start healing.

 With all of the intensity focused on racial issues in the latter half of the 1960s, reality and its pain emerged in the African-American community. Such intense emotion is naturally deflected from ones’ vulnerable core, redirected and expressed instead as anger. The anger may be aimed at inanimate objects, complete strangers, friends or family. People feel guilty for being angry, and this makes them angrier.

 The normal reaction to the feelings of the helplessness and vulnerability African-Americans felt in the ‘60s is often a need to regain control – make a deal with God or our higher power. “If only we had tried to be a better people…” “If only we had fought harder…” Bargaining is an “if – then” proposition. “If I fight harder now…” This can lead to self-doubt and, over time, depression.

 If there was depression in the African-American community, it was eased by the embrace of the Democrat dominated, post-Watergate, federal government. Unfortunately, there were strings attached – in this case it was the umbilical cord of physical and financial dependence and, of course, it didn’t help anyone overcome their depression – it just replaced it with a new hopelessness.

 Today, after fifty years of hopelessness fostered by the federal government and endorsed by so-called “leaders of the black community”, many, if not most, African-Americans have accepted the fact that they are never going to “make it” in America. So, in a perverse sense, the federal government has prevented a healing process and has perpetuated the “grief” of the African-American community.

 Unfortunately, many leaders of the African-American community, more often than not members of the clergy or associated with various religious denominations, weren’t in the mood to counsel their flocks through the grieving process. They had other ideas – self-righteous and self-indulgent ideas.

 There is now a new reality for the African-American community to grieve over – the legacy of the wasted lives of Democrat President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society. The best thing the African-American community can do now is to allow itself to feel the grief as it comes over them. Resisting it only will prolong the natural process of healing. Comfort must finally come from the local community, not the federal government.

So, what really happened in the African-American community after the passage of the Civil Rights Acts?

“In 1965, following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts had passed into law the Racial Imbalance Act, which ordered school districts to desegregate or risk losing State educational funding. The first law of its kind in the nation, it was opposed by many in Boston, especially in working-class white ethnic areas, such as the Irish-American districts of South Boston and Charlestown.

In 1972, the NAACP filed a class-action lawsuit against the Boston School Committee on behalf of 14 parents and 44 children alleging segregation in the Boston public schools. Two years later, Judge W. Arthur Garrity, Jr. of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts found a recurring pattern of racial discrimination in the operation of the Boston public schools in a 1974 ruling – despite the fact that most school children attended neighborhood schools – most whites living in south Boston, most blacks in the North End.

His [ill-reasoned] ruling found the schools were unconstitutionally segregated, and required the implementation the state’s Racial Imbalance Law, requiring any Boston school with a student enrollment that was more than 50% non-white to be balanced according to race despite the city’s demographics.

The Boston School Committee, under the leadership of Louise Day Hicks, consistently disobeyed orders from the State Board of Education, first to develop a busing plan, and then to support its implementation. As a remedy, Garrity used a busing plan developed by the Massachusetts State Board of Education and then personally oversaw its implementation for the next 13 years – effectively replacing the elected School Committee!

Judge Garrity’s ruling, upheld on appeal by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and by the Supreme Court led by Warren Burger, required school children to be brought to different schools to end segregation – no matter the hours a day students wasted on the buses. The final Judge Garrity-issued decision in the case came in 1985, after which control of the desegregation plan was given back to the School Committee in 1988.

In one part of the plan, Judge Garrity decided that the entire junior class from the mostly poor white South Boston High School would be bused to Roxbury High School, a predominantly black high school. Half the sophomores from each school would attend the other, and seniors could decide what school to attend. For three years after the plan commenced, Massachusetts State troopers were stationed at South Boston High to which black students would be bussed. The first day of the plan, only 100 of 1,300 students came to school at South Boston. Only 13 of the 550 South Boston juniors ordered to attend Roxbury showed up. 

Parents showed up every day to protest, and football season was cancelled. Whites and blacks began entering through different doors. An anti-busing mass movement developed, called Restore Our Alienated Rights (ROAR). Of the 100,000 enrolled in Boston school districts, attendance fell to 40,000

At one point, black teenagers in Roxbury threw rocks at a white man’s car and caused him to crash. The youths dragged him out and crushed his skull with nearby paving stones. When police arrived, the man was surrounded by a crowd of 100 chanting “Let him die” while he lay in the street in a coma from which he never recovered. [The exact same thing happened during the “Rodney King Riots” in Los Angeles in the early 1990s.] In another instance, a white teenager was stabbed nearly to death by a black teenager at South Boston High School. 

There were dozens of other racial incidents at South Boston High that year, predominantly of racial taunting of the black students. The school was forced to close for a month after the stabbing. When it opened again, it was one of the first high schools to install metal detectors; with 400 students attending, it was guarded by 500 police officers every day. In December 1975, Judge Garrity turned out the principal of South Boston High and took control himself.

Although the busing plan, by its very nature, shaped the enrollment at specific schools, it is unclear what effect it had on underlying demographic trends. By the time the court-controlled busing system ended in 1988, the Boston school district had shrunk from 100,000 students to 57,000, only 15% of whom were white.”

The vast majority of white public school enrollment is now in surrounding suburbs where public school enrollment in 2014-2015 was 64% white and 9% African-American. Metro Boston public schools were 35% African-American and 13% white.”

As a result of the threat of a Boston public school style policy of forced busing, many cities around the country, especially in the South, experienced widespread losses of white students from their public school systems to parent-supported private “academies”. My own Nashville is typical.

 In 1970, about 80% of the students in the city’s public schools were white and about 20% were African-American. The implementation of the “academy system” in the 1970s has resulted in the current demographics of the Nashville public school system to be about 80% African-American and less than 20% white while Nashville’s population has only shifted to 62% white and 28% African-American. This equates to the loss of about 40,000 white students out of a total school population of about 80,000 students.

 The academies are performing wonderfully well and the public schools are failing despite enormous amounts of taxpayer dollars per year. Through this classic example of governmental overreach, the nation’s public schools, formerly the envy of the world, are predominantly schools-of-color and are failing to provide even a basic education while the nation’s private, parochial and charter schools – those without government or teacher’s union control, are succeeding by every measure.

 One measure is especially telling. Only ten-percent (10%) of graduates from Tennessee’s urban public high-schools are academically ready for college work. That’s a failure rate of 90% for the public-school system. For comparison, a public charter high-school in the Nashville area – serving a predominantly minority population – recently graduated its second senior class ever and every single graduate has been accepted by a college or university. That’s a 100% success rate for a predominantly minority student body!

 Urban demographics are by no means the only problem with urban public education – or even the most critical problem. That dubious honor belongs to a creation of the PLDC – the decimation and public dependency of the African-American family that has resulted from Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society”, which will be discussed in detail below.

But, as we shall see, forced busing for racial purposes was just one of the manifestations of a failure to confront the final hurdle to a truly color-blind society – true social and cultural assimilation – which is the ability of an individual to take full advantage of equal economic and life opportunities through the benefits of growing-up and maturing in a color-blind environment at home, in school, at work and in the community.

Next time: The Civil Rights Movement.

The Harlem Renaissance

These NAACP victories, along with other cases such as McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Board of Regents  (1950),  NAACP v. Alabama (1958), and Boynton v. Virginia (1960), slowly dismantled the state-sponsored segregation imposed by Jim Crow laws. Generally, the remaining Jim Crow laws were overruled by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 thereby ending – at least in the law – the de jure segregation of the races in America. It would now be up to the community to end de facto segregation. It was here that the leaders of the several racial communities profoundly failed America and the People.

Despite this climate, the African-American community was able to make social progress in the major cities of the Northeast and Mid-West in the 65-year period between the end of the Civil War and the start of the Great Depression. What historians refer to as “racial uplift ideology” describes a prominent response of black middle-class leaders, spokespersons, and activists to the crisis marked by the assault on the civil and political rights of these new African-Americans, primarily in the South from 1876 to 1954.

A generation earlier, the demise of slavery and emancipation had fueled African-Americans’ optimistic pursuit of education, full citizenship and economic independence, all crucial markers of freedom [long forgotten in 21st Century America]. A generation later, the black middle-class would be well on its way into the mainstream – until the Great Depression derailed the freedom train.

As we have seen, these post-emancipation aspirations for social advancement, or uplift, came under assault by powerful Southern whites seeking to regain control over African-American labor. With the withdrawal of federal troops from the south in 1877, Southern white authorities banded together with impoverished whites [who were also voters] under the banner of white supremacy, and instituted a new system of racial subordination.

The ideology of racial uplift, the idea that educated blacks are responsible for the welfare of the majority of their race, was a response to this post-Reconstruction assault on African-American civil and political rights gained as a result of the Civil War.

 Many African-American men and women interpreted the rhetoric of uplift as a call to public service. They enacted ideals of self-help and service-to-the-group in building educational, reformist, civic and fraternal organizations, settlement houses, newspapers, trade unions, and other public institutions whose constructive social impact exceeded the ideological limitations of uplift.

 The mass migration of tens of thousands of African-Americans from the South to northern cities during World War I provided new conditions and opportunities for social and political progress. The war had closed off immigration to America from southern and eastern Europe. Those, allegedly smarter and more easily trainable immigrants had formed the backbone of the original industrial working class in the America, while 90 percent of the African-American population remained in the South, confined to cotton production on sharecropping plantations.

Northern industrialists recruited African-American labor en masse to solve the labor shortage caused by the “Great War’s” cessation of immigration from Europe. African-American newspapers such as the Chicago Defender, covertly distributed below the Mason-Dixon line, encouraged southern blacks to leave behind poverty and the brutality of Jim Crow for freedom, the right to vote, employment, and educational opportunities in Northern cities.

As early as the 1890s, African-American leaders in the South had advocated out-migration by blacks as a means of protesting lynching and other forms of oppression, outraging southern authorities’ intent on keeping blacks “in their place” as a compliant and cowed agricultural work force. During this period, more than 4,000 African-Americans were lynched in the South but World War I finally provided the catalyst for the northward migration for large numbers of African-Americans.

Black migration to the North’s great cities wrought profound transformations on African-American politics, society, culture and identity. African-American leadership became more protest-oriented and ideologically diverse. Organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), led by the Jamaican-born Marcus Garvey, attracted huge followings and gave voice to what many termed the “New Negro” spirit of protest and group assertiveness.

With the Great Migration and the concentration off African-Americans in the major industrial cities of the North, the politics of mass protest began to replace uplift as the way toward black social advancement. As African-American migrants to cities competed with whites for scarce resources in jobs and housing, white mobs attacked them, leading to full-blown race riots. The “Red Summer” of 1919 saw outbreaks of urban disorder in many cities, including Chicago and Washington D.C.

The African-American press proudly reported that African-Americans exhibited the militancy of the “New Negro” in fighting back against these mob attacks. Opportunistic black leaders spoke less of the crucial role of elites as agents of racial uplift and increasingly embraced a politics of mass protest, labor organization, and economic analyses of the plight of African-Americans. [Individualism was replaced by group-think and the long slog into government dependency had begun although it would accelerate in the New Deal — which might very well be cautioned by a sage observation from social critic George Carlin: “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.” It only takes one!]

In the realm of culture, new urban musical forms (music being an essential part of the black experience in slavery) as the blues, gospel and jazz voiced the social outlook and aspirations of working class blacks, and increasingly came to define African-American popular culture, even as some educated blacks considered these musical styles controversial and not refined enough to represent the race in a respectable manner.

The new urbanity of black America fostered an awakening of African-American arts and letters. The first wave of Southern migrants seeking to escape the brutal economic and social apartheid of the Jim Crow South had created vibrant, although still segregated, communities, throughout the Northeast and Midwest. Harlem would become the Mecca, politically, culturally, and symbolically, of a new day in Black America and would give birth to the cultural movement known as the Harlem Renaissance.

Much like the European Renaissance of the Middle Ages, the influence of the Harlem Renaissance was felt in literature, philosophy, art, music, politics, science, religion, and other aspects of intellectual inquiry searching for realism and human emotion in art. The Movement also influenced new African-American cultural expressions across the urban areas in the Northeast and Midwest United States affected by the Great migration of African-Americans, of which Harlem was the largest. In addition, many francophone black writers from African and Caribbean colonies who lived in Paris were also influenced by the Harlem Renaissance.

The Harlem Renaissance is generally considered to have spanned from about 1918 until the mid-1930s.  Many of its ideas lived on much longer and formed the foundation for the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-20th Century. During the early portion of the 20th Century, Harlem was the destination for immigrants from around the country, attracting both people seeking work, and an educated class who made the area a center of culture, as well as a growing “Negro” middle class.

By 1930, there were over 200,000 African-Americans living in Harlem – out of almost 7 million people living in all of New York City. Black politicians, journalists, writers, scholars, collectors, and intellectuals converged on the area at the northern end of the island Borough of Manhattan above 125th Street – brought to New York City by the promise of a new dawning of opportunities for black Americans and ready to fight the injustices that they still encountered, even in their new surroundings.

The district had originally been developed in the mid-19th Century as an exclusive suburb for the white middle and upper middle classes; its affluent beginnings led to the development of stately houses, grand avenues and world-class amenities such as the Polo Grounds (the home of one of New York City’s three major league baseball teams – the New York Giants) and the Harlem Opera House. During the enormous influx of European immigrants in the late 19th Century, the once exclusive district was abandoned by the white middle class, who had moved further north, through Yonkers, into Westchester County.

Harlem became an African-American neighborhood in the early 1900s. In 1910, a large block along 135th Street and Fifth Avenue was bought by various African-American realtors and a church group. Many more African–Americans arrived during the First World War as the war effort resulted in a massive demand for unskilled industrial labor in industries, such as shipbuilding along the Harlem River between Harlem and the Bronx, in the vicinity of Yankee Stadium, home of the second of New York’s baseball teams – the New York Yankees. The Great Migration also brought hundreds of thousands of African-Americans to cities such as Chicago, Pittsburg, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Detroit which concentrated ambitious people in places where they could encourage each other.

Various forms of religious worship existed during this time of African–American intellectual re-awakening. Although there were racist attitudes within the current  Abrahamic religions arenas, many African–Americans continued to push towards the practice of a more inclusive doctrine. There were other forms of spiritualism practiced among African–Americans during the Harlem Renaissance. Some of these religions and philosophies were inherited from African ancestry.

For example, the religion of  Islam was present in Africa as early as the 8th Century, as we have seen, through the Arab Trans-Saharan slave-trade. It was most probably adopted as a gesture of good will by the same black princes and potentates who were selling their own people into slavery.

Islam came to Harlem likely through the migration of members of the Moorish Science Temple of America, which was established in 1913 in New Jersey. Nevertheless, modern African-American adherents to Islam display an ignorance, cynicism or hypocrisy that is stunning, given the history of Islam and the African slave trade. Other traditional forms of religion acquired from various parts of Africa were inherited and practiced during this era. Some commons examples were Voodoo and Santeria.

The Harlem Renaissance was many things to many people, but it is best described as a cultural phenomenon in which the high level of black artistic and cultural production demanded and received mainstream recognition, where racial solidarity was equated with social progress, and where the idea of blackness became a commodity in its own right.”

“As a result, the “New Negro Renaissance” is the most widely discussed period of African-American literary history not only because of ongoing scholarly debates over its origins, beginning and end, but also because of its fundamental importance to 20th Century American thought and culture. The Renaissance coincided with the Jazz Age, the Roaring Twenties, and the Lost Generation, and its impact was keenly felt on an individual and collective level within the African-American community as well as on America’s robust cultural industries – music, film and theater – all of which fully benefited from the creativity and newly discovered contributions of African Americans.”

The “Lost Generation” was the generation that came of age during World War I. The term was popularized by Ernest Hemingway, for his novel, The Sun Also Rises. In that volume, Hemingway gives credit for the phrase to Gertrude Stein, who was then his mentor and patron.

In A Moveable Feast, published after Hemingway’s and Stein’s deaths, Hemingway claims that Stein heard the phrase from a French garage-owner who serviced Stein’s car. When a young mechanic failed to repair the car quickly enough, the garage owner shouted at the boy, “You are all a “génération perdue.” Stein, in telling Hemingway the story, added, “That is what you are. That’s what you all are … all of you young people who served in the war. You are a lost generation.”

In this sense, lost means not vanished but disoriented, wandering, directionless – recognition that there was great confusion and aimlessness among the war’s survivors in the early post-war years. It is used for the generation of young people born from 1883 to 1900, who came of age during and shortly after World War I, alternatively known as the World War I generation.

“A new way of playing the piano called the  Harlem Stride style was created during the Harlem Renaissance, and helped blur the lines between the poor African–Americans and socially elite African–Americans. The traditional jazz band was composed primarily of brass instruments and was considered a symbol of the South, but, among African–Americans, the piano was considered an instrument of the wealthy – they only knew of them from the plantation houses or the merchant mansions of the great southern cities like New Orleans and Charleston. With this instrumental modification to the existing genre, the wealthy blacks now had more access to jazz music.

Its popularity soon spread throughout the country and was consequently at an all-time high. Innovation and liveliness were important characteristics of performers in the beginnings of jazz. Jazz musicians at the time such as  Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Jelly Roll Morton were very talented and competitive.

During this period, the musical style of blacks was becoming more and more attractive to whites. White novelists, dramatists and composers started to exploit the musical tendencies and themes of African–Americans in their works. Composers used poems written by African-American poets in their songs, and would implement the rhythms, harmonies and melodies of African-American music – such as blues, spirituals, and jazz – into their concert pieces.

The most famous and significant example of this is the stage show Porgy and Bess, an English-language opera composed in 1934 by the legendary American composer George Gershwin, with a libretto written by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin from Heyward’s novel Porgy and later play of the same title. Porgy and Bess was first performed in New York City on September 30, 1935, and featured an entire cast of classically trained African-American singers.

[There was an earlier Broadway show produced, directed, choreographed, acted and sung entirely by African-Americans. It was entitled Shuffle Along, successfully staged in 1921 and revived as another all African-American production in 2015 – to great acclaim.]

After the original Broadway run of Porgy and Bess, a tour started on January 27, 1936, in Philadelphia and traveled to Pittsburgh and Chicago before ending in Washington, D.C., on March 21, 1936. During the Washington run, the cast – led by Todd Duncan – protested the segregation at the National Theatre. Eventually management gave in to the demands, resulting in the first integrated audience for a performance of any show at that venue.

Significantly, in 2001, Porgy and Bess was proclaimed the official opera of the state of South Carolina! The 1940/1942 Decca recording of Porgy and Bess, with members of the original cast, was included by the National Recording Preservation Act in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry in 2003.

Characterizing the Harlem Renaissance was an overt racial pride that came to be represented in the idea of the “New Negro”, who through intellect and production of literature, art and music could challenge the pervading racism and stereotypes to promote the Progressive or Socialist politics of the major, urban, “big machine”  Democrat politicians – who controlled all of the major cities – as well as racial and social integration. The creation of art and literature would serve to “uplift” the race. So, due to unfortunate circumstances of time and place, the “Party of Lincoln” – the Great Emancipator – which had tried valiantly, against the racist Democrat Party, to guarantee African-American rights, was forsaken by the decendents of the slaves they had freed.

However, there would be no uniting form singularly characterizing the art that emerged from the Harlem Renaissance. Rather, it encompassed a wide variety of cultural elements and styles, including a Pan-African perspective, “high-culture” and “low-culture” or “low-life,” from the traditional forms of music to the blues and jazz, traditional and new experimental forms in literature such as modernism and the new form of jazz poetry. This duality meant that numerous African-American artists came into conflict with traditionalists in the black intelligentsia, who took issue with certain depictions of black life.

Some common themes represented during the Harlem Renaissance were the influence of the experience of slavery and emerging African-American folk traditions on black identity, the effects of institutional racism, the dilemmas inherent in performing and writing for elite white audiences, and the question of how to convey the experience of modern black life in the urban North.

The Harlem Renaissance was one of primarily African-American involvement. It rested on a support system of black patrons, black-owned businesses and black publications. However, it also depended on the patronage of white Americans who provided various forms of assistance, opening doors which otherwise would have remained closed to the publication of work outside the African-American community. This support often took the form of patronage or publication.

There were other whites interested in so-called “primitive” cultures, as many whites viewed African-American culture at that time, and wanted to see such “primitivism” in the work coming out of the Harlem Renaissance. As with most fads, some people may have been exploited in the rush for publicity – the best example of which was actress Hattie McDaniel, Mammy in the movie Gone With the Wind (1939), for which she won the Academy Award for best Supporting Actress, the first African-American to win an Academy Award.

Some critics felt that McDaniel not only accepted the role but, also in her statements to the press, acquiesced in Hollywood’s racial stereotypes, providing fuel for critics of those who were fighting for black civil rights. Later, when McDaniel tried to take her “Mammy” character on a road show, black audiences did not prove receptive. In accepting the Academy Award on February 29, 1940, she said; “… I sincerely hope I shall always be a credit to my race and to the motion picture industry. My heart is too full to tell you just how I feel, and may I say thank you and God bless you.” She and her escort were required to sit at a segregated table for two.

Interest in African-American lives generated experimental but lasting collaborative work, such as Porgy and Bess and  Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein’s Four Saints in Three Acts. In both productions the choral conductor Eva Jessye was part of the creative team. The music world also found popular white band leaders defying racist attitudes to include the best and the brightest African-American stars of music and song in their productions.

African-Americans used art to prove their humanity and demand for equality. The Harlem Renaissance led to more opportunities for blacks to be published by mainstream houses. Many authors began to publish novels, magazines and newspapers during this time. The new fiction attracted a great amount of attention from the nation at large. Among authors who became nationally known were Zora Neale Hurston , James Baldwin and Langston Hughes.

The Harlem Renaissance helped lay the foundation for the post-World War II phase of the Civil Rights Movement. Moreover, many black artists who rose to creative maturity afterward were inspired by this literary movement.

But, the early Harlem Renaissance was more than a literary or artistic movement, as it possessed a certain sociological development – particularly through a new racial consciousness – through ethnic pride, as seen in the Back-to-Africa movement led by Marcus Garvey. At the same time, a different expression of ethnic pride, promoted by W.E.B. DuBois, introduced the notion of the “talented tenth”: those African-Americans who were fortunate enough to inherit money or property or earn a college degree during the transition from Reconstruction to the Jim Crow period of the early twentieth century.

These “talented tenth” were considered the finest examples of the worth of black Americans as a response to the rampant racism of the period. (No particular leadership was assigned to the talented tenth, but they were to be emulated.) In both literature and popular discussion, complex ideas such as Du Bois’s concept of “twoness” (dualism) were introduced – see  The Souls of Black Folk (1903). Du Bois explored a divided awareness of one’s identity that was a unique critique of the social ramifications of racial consciousness. This exploration was later revived during the Black Pride movement of the early 1970s

The Harlem Renaissance was successful in that it brought the Black experience clearly within the narrative of  American cultural history. Not only through an explosion of culture but, on a sociological level, the legacy of the Harlem Renaissance redefined how America, and the world, viewed African–Americans.

The migration of southern Blacks to the north changed the image of the African–American from rural, undereducated peasants to one of urban, cosmopolitan sophistication. This new identity led to a greater social consciousness, and African–Americans became players on the world stage, expanding intellectual and social contacts internationally.

The progress – both symbolic and real – during this period became a point of reference from which the African-American community gained a spirit of self that provided a growing sense of both Black urbanity for the mature and black-assertiveness for the younger generation, as well as a foundation for the community to build upon for the Civil Rights struggles in the 1950s and 1960s.

The Harlem Renaissance appealed to a mixed audience. The literature appealed to the African-American middle-class and to whites. Magazines such as The Crisis, a monthly journal of the NAACP, and Opportunity, an official publication of the National Urban League, employed Harlem Renaissance writers on their editorial staffs; published poetry and short stories by black writers; and promoted African-American literature through articles, reviews, and annual literary prizes.

As important as these literary outlets were, however, the Renaissance relied heavily on white publishing houses and white-owned magazines. A major accomplishment of the Renaissance was to open the door to mainstream white periodicals and publishing houses, the relationship between the Renaissance writers and white publishers and audiences created some controversy, although this form of “peer review” provided a road into established academic circles. 

African-American musicians and other performers also played to mixed audiences. Harlem’s cabarets and clubs attracted both Harlem residents and white New Yorkers,especially wealthy Manhattanites, seeking out Harlem’s “naughty” nightlife. Harlem’s famous Cotton Club, where Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway performed, carried this to an extreme, by providing black entertainment for exclusively white audiences. Ultimately, the more successful black musicians and entertainers who appealed to a mainstream audience moved their performances downtown.

Certain aspects of the Harlem Renaissance were accepted without debate, and without scrutiny. One of these was the future of the “New Negro”. Artists and intellectuals of the Harlem Renaissance echoed American progressivism in its faith in democratic reform through central government involvement, in its belief in art and literature as agents of change, and in its almost uncritical belief in itself and its future. Unfortunately, this “pie-in-the-sky” philosophy would soon run, headlong, into the real world – in the form of the Great Depression.”

Next time: African-Americans in the Great Depression.