Posts Tagged ‘Adam Clayton Powell’

An old friend from Capitol Hill sent me the following email about the subgroups in Black America.  Among Black males in the Georgia delegation in the 90s, the guys would often turn to me for a certain angle because I was familiar with a range of “us.”  In other words, I did not want for anything as a child but I still had a valid Hood card.  My boyhood home was in a subdivision that was/is “hood adjacent” so I can swing if I need to and would have done a better job mama-talking than Henry Louis Gates.  In my town, the second “your mama” came out of someone’s mouth, dude was about to get slammed on the hard pavement or that G.A. red clay.

Did you happen to catch the Black in America II special? I was inspired to see our younger folks exploring that entrepreneurial spirit. However I was also disturbed by our wealthy brothers and sisters establishing cliques based upon status. To me it sends the message if you were born with the silver spoon you are in. But if you were not, too bad, and by the way our door is closed and we are not going to help you get in. But if you somehow do gain wealth (hook or crook) then you are welcome. For me and you I am not so concerned, but in the case of my younger brother I am. He has consistently been at the top of his class and is destined to be a great achiever. But unless he scores the big dollars he can’t get into the club. That is pure BS!Your thoughts?


Once and for all: fancy folks don’t necessarily related to non-fancy people who look like them and humbly-raised southerner Bill Clinton might actually have a more valid Hood card than Barrack Obama.  Remember, Obama was raised in Kansas and Hawaii by some of the nice people you will ever meet.  Clinton came from rough and rural Hope, Arkansas.  Have you ever seen the picture of Bill Clinton shaking hands with President Kennedy at American Legion Boys Nation in 1964?  I was a Boys Nation alternate in 1981so I have always like that photo and noticed that the young man in the picture waiting to shake hands with Kennedy is Tom from Sylvester, Georgia, my hometown.  Tom became an All-American football player at UGA and a surgeon but Bill Clinton had him crying in the dorm at Boys Nation.  Clinton was campaigning to make history by electing a Black kid from California the first Black Boys Nation President but Tom said he could not make that vote because Blacks were genetically different from White people according to the teaching at his high school. 


Bill Clinton and JFK

Bill Clinton and JFK


I remember this story because Ted Koppel did a show about it on Nightline in 1994 when the Boys Nation class of 1964 reunited for their 30th anniversary with a member in the White House. 

Gates, Obama, and children of Blacks who are third and forth generation doctors and lawyers have grown removed from the experience and culture of Blacks on the other end of the socioeconomic range and I am proud of Black parents who have provided better living for their children.  Some of these Blacks are unaware of poor Whites struggling and there are Whites who never knew that there have been presidential quality Blacks in America since America became America. 

As a kid reading Jet and Ebony magazines, I questioned the loyalty of Adam Clayton Powell and Thurgood Marshall because they did not looking me but I was so wrong because MLK just presented the whole “content of their character” thing.  Powell was a Harlem congressman who grew up as Black elite in New York and my daddy would tell us stories with pride about attending Powell’s father’s Abyssinian Baptist Church with it’s 5000 members.  Congressman Powell never lost his connection to average people in Black America because he was always in the restaurants and barbershops teaching and listening


Rep. Adam Clayton Powell

Rep. Adam Clayton Powell


In “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” Malcolm said that Powell told him in a Harlem barbershop that the poor people’s march on Washington was taken over by powerful people from outside our community.  Originally, the protest was designed to be poor people laying down on the steps of the Capitol and the runways of the airport.  But, some money guys came in with a peaceful plan and some big checks..with equally big checks to follow if the plan was executed properly.  The rest is history but think about it: the civil rights movement was not about poor people solely.  It started with Blacks who served in World War II returning home and wondering why they fought for freedom overseas yet did not enjoy fair opportunity or fair treatment at home.  When you look at pictures from the civil rights movement, you see neatly dress and well-groomed people protesting their systematic denial from the America middle class.

Who knows what the next phase will bring but I keep hearing that line from the old Police reggae song “One World is Enough for All of Us” that said “we can not sink while others float because we are all in the same big boat.”  Many successful Blacks are weary of certain elements inside the Black that hold back progress or actually reverse past gains.  I saw Chris Rock’s wife taking the kids to Africa on “Black in America II” and had to think about Rock’s standup routine that started, “I love Black folks but I am……”  CNN’s Black America II was nothing new to most Blacks because we all know about the Black clubs and institutions that did not want Blacks darker than a brown paper bag or those without “good hair.” 

V, we both worked as congressional staff together and knew that most Black Americans assume that the actions of Black members of congress were driven by the best interests of America in general and Black America in particular.  We knew that some of those members were primarily concerned with securing campaign funds to keep their high-profile jobs.  You know I like Obama, Artur Davis in Alabama and Harold Ford Jr. because they expanded the issues of concern for Black America to include every federal issue.  They are standing on the shoulders of Rep. Sanford Bishop and that generation of CBC members who were freshmen in the 90s.  The next generation of CBC members (in my opinion) should included more diversity from the center and even a conservative or two.   A conservative member might choose to skip membership in the CBC like former members of congress Gary Franks and J.C. Watts but we realize that there is a subsection of Black America more interested in business development and self-determination than governmental intervention.  That is nothing knew because a sizable portion of Black America has always felt that way.   



Read Full Post »