Posts Tagged ‘mlk’

Immigration reform or what have you should start with a frank and honest discussion about Blacks in America.  While President Obama is still one of my favorite presidents, his push for a path to citizenship for those who came here illegal is perplexing.  We would have a huge influx of new citizens from just south of the border rather than a balance blend of people from all around the world.  Before we bring anyone into the American family we should consider those who toiled to make this great nation; those who were stolen from the land and those whose land was stolen.

I understand that many Mexicans feel free to ignore the southern border because they think that Texas, Arizona, parts of California and of course New Mexico was stolen from them.  Native Americans can say that two continents were inexplicably taken from them.  Historians will tell you that America jumped passed older nations from the Old World economically in part because of the cheap and free labor provided by African slaves.  And folks have the nerve to say “go back to Africa” like we wanted to come here in the first place.  Heaven knows that resources-rich Africa would have done well if respected and if her nations were considered normal members of the global community.

I love the fact that President U.S. Grant wanted to buy the island of Hispaniola (current Haiti and the Dominican Republic) to create a nation in this region for former slaves.  The web is buzzing with a rare video of Dr. Martin Luther King going off about the land that was given to Europeans who arrived after the Civil War but no land for those former slaves who worked by force for over 150 years before 1776.

To be honest, the use of Mexican labor over the last few decades was based on replacing the recently freed African Americans—yes, we were freed around 1970.  Dr. Hollis at my Black college had the vision to tell her pol sci majors that America’s relationship with African Americans wasn’t based on our being minorities because in time we wouldn’t be the top minority group.  It was based on our labor and oppression in the making of this great nation.

The Japanese Americans were placed  in internment camps during World II and that was wrong (where were the Italian and Germany internment camps.)  In the 1990s, the U.S. Congress compensated them for this wrong but if they were owed an inch, Black America would be owed a freaking mile.  It will never happen but keep that in the back of your mind, Mr. Go Back To Africa.  And we shouldn’t act as if current people and companies are still benefiting from the cheap labor that continue with Jim Crow and sharecropping until the 1970s.

Moderates shouldn’t be lumped together with liberals on immigration reform because we often feel that the country should slow it’s roll on this matter.  The decisions about what to do with African and Native Americans usually didn’t include those two groups.  So, we should address some lingering issues before opening the doors any wider.


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Malcolm X and Adam Clayton Powell

In college, I finally read “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” and loved the section on the March on Washington.  In a Harlem barbershop, Congressman Adam Clayton Powell told of the slick moves that changed this historic event.  The original march was to be a radical protest of poor people.  Plans included sitting down on the step of Congress and being prone on the runways at the airport.



But, the fancy middle class civic rights groups, with money for corporate sources, took over the march and turned it into a love fest.  I never really understood or appreciated the turn the other cheek, nonviolent mentality.  If kids are in a church and someone wants to blow the structure up, killing the wrongdoers isn’t violence—it’s self-defense.  The same thoughts apply to Black wrongdoers who kill victims of any color.



Dr. King gave a lovely oration but I still wonder if that was the time for stronger action.  The FBI had to assassinate Malcolm X when he grew less angry towards other races and started the discuss of taking the U.S. government before the International Criminal Court at the Hague for human rights violations against Black Americans.  Oh, he had to go at that point.



We must remember that the Civil Rights movement grew because middle class Black veterans return from World War II and learned that they had fought for freedom abroad that they didn’t enjoy at home.  At the end of the day, voting and money are keys to power and equality—march your behind to the voting booth.


Malcolm X on the March on Washington, 1964

From The Autobiography of Malcolm X. New York: Ballantine Books, 1964. 278-281.

Not long ago, the black man in America was fed a dose of another form of the weakening, lulling and deluding effects of so-called “integration.” It was that “Farce in Washington,” I call it.

The idea of a mass of blacks marching on Washington was originally the brainchild of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters’ A. Philip Randolph. For twenty or more years the March on Washington idea had floated around among Negroes. And, spontaneously, suddenly now, that idea caught on.

Overalled rural Southern Negroes, small town Negroes, Northern ghetto Negroes, even thousands of previously Uncle Tom Negroes began talking “March!”

Nothing since Joe Louis had so coalesced the masses of Negroes. Groups of Negroes were talking of getting to Washington any way they could–in rickety old cars, on buses, hitch-hiking–walking, even, if they had to. They envisioned thousands of black brothers converging together upon Washington–to lie down in the streets, on airport runways, on government lawns–demanding of the Congress and the White House some concrete civil rights action.

This was a national bitterness; militant, unorganized, and leaderless. Predominantly, it was young Negroes, defiant of whatever might be the consequences, sick and tired of the black man’s neck under the white man’s heel.

The white man had plenty of good reasons for nervous worry. The right spark–some unpredictable emotional chemistry–could set off a black uprising. The government knew that thousands of milling, angry blacks not only could completely disrupt Washington–but they could erupt in Washington.

The White House speedily invited in the major civil rights Negro “leaders.” They were asked to stop the planned March. They truthfully said they hadn’t begun it, they had no control over it–the idea was national, spontaneous, unorganized, and leaderless. In other words, it was a black powder keg.

Any student of how “integration” can weaken the black man’s movement was about to observe a master lesson.

The White House, with a fanfare of international publicity, “approved,” “endorsed,” and “welcomed” a March on Washington. The big civil rights organizations right at this time had been publicly squabbling about donations. The New York Times had broken the story. The NAACP had charged that other agencies’ demonstrations, highly publicized, had attracted a major part of the civil rights donations–while the NAACP got left holding the bag, supplying costly bail and legal talent for the other organizations’ jailed demonstrators.

It was like a movie. The next scene was the “big six” civil rights Negro “leaders” meeting in New York City with the white head of a big philanthropic agency. They were told that their money–wrangling in public was damaging their image. And a reported $800,000 was donated to a United Civil Rights Leadership council that was quickly organized by the “big six.”

Now, what had instantly achieved black unity? The white man’s money. What string was attached to the money? Advice. Not only was there this donation, but another comparable sum was promised, for sometime later on, after the March. . . obviously if all went well.

The original “angry” March on Washington was now about to be entirely changed.

Massive international publicity projected the “big six” as March on Washington leaders. It was news to those angry grass-roots Negroes steadily adding steam to their March plans. They probably assumed that now those famous “leaders” were endorsing and joining them.

Invited next to join the March were four famous white public figures: one Catholic, one Jew, one Protestant, and one labor boss.

The massive publicity now gently hinted that the “big ten” would “supervise” the March on Washington’s “mood,” and its “direction.”

The four white figures began nodding. The word spread fast among so-called “liberal” Catholics, Jews, Protestants, and laborites: it was “democratic” to join this black March. And suddenly, the previously March–nervous whites began announcing they were going.

It was as if electrical current shot through the ranks of bourgeois Negroes–the very so-called “middle class” and “upper class” who had earlier been deploring the March on Washington talk by grass-roots Negroes.

But white people, now, were going to march.

Why, some downtrodden, jobless, hungry Negroes might have gotten trampled. Those “integration”-mad Negroes practically ran over each other trying to find out where to sign up. The “angry blacks” March suddenly had been made chic. Suddenly it had a Kentucky Derby image. For the status-seeker, it was a status symbol. “Were you there?” You can hear that right today.

It had become an outing, a picnic.

The morning of the March, any rickety carloads of angry, dusty, sweating small-town Negroes would have gotten lost among the chartered jet planes, railroad cars, and air-conditioned buses. What originally was planned to be an angry riptide, one English newspaper aptly described now as “the gentle flood.”

Talk about “integrated”! It was like salt and pepper. And, by now, there wasn’t a single logistics aspect uncontrolled.

The marchers had been instructed to bring no signs–signs were provided. They had been told to sing one song: “We Shall Overcome.” They had been told how to arrive, when, where to arrive, where to assemble, when to start marching, the route to march. First aid stations were strategically located–even where to faint!

Yes, I was there. I observed that circus. Who ever heard of angry revolutionists all harmonizing “We Shall Overcome. . .Suum Day. . .” while tripping and swaying along arm-in-arm with the very people they were supposed to be angrily revolting against? Who ever heard of angry revolutionists swinging their bare feet together with their oppressor in lily-pad park pools, with gospels and guitars and “I Have A Dream” speeches?

And the black masses in America were–and still are–having a nightmare.

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A recent PBS documentary on President Andrew Jackson fascinated me.  Jackson was a strong president who shaped this youth nation.  We know his views on slavery and his actions toward Native Americans make my head drop.  Who knew that his final words on his deathbed were “Oh do not cry. Be good children, and we shall all meet in Heaven..I want to meet you all, White and Black, in Heaven.”

A slave who was at Jackson bedside asked another slave if she thought he made it into heaven.  The slave responded that she could not imagine them keeping him out.  I wonder what position or role Jackson thought Blacks would play in heaven.  My homeboys would joke that Jackson assumed Blacks would be there since servants would be needed.  There is a song from my childhood called “If Heaven ain’t A lot Like Dixie..Then I Don’t Want To Go.”  Hank Williams Jr. got me thinking but I better leave that alone.   

On his deathbed, General Stonewall Jackson’s last words were “Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.”  After the battles of this life, rest can be sweet relief. 

One more Jackson comes to mind, Mrs. Mahalia Jackson’s classic “Trouble of the World” from the film Imitation of Life.  Mrs. Jackson is the Queen of Gospel music but some people don’t know that she prompted Dr. Martin Luther King to end his March on Washington speech with parts of a speech she had heard him give in the past.  She said, “Tell them about the dream, Martin” and the rest is history.

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As southerners, my friends and I seem to spend “plenty time” watching for signs regarding this or that.  The signs could actually be our better judgment kicking in or guardian angels (dead relatives) whispering in our ears.  The continued bickering in American politics disenchants me—it is not supposed to be this way.  President Obama was right to reference the MLK adage “you can disagree without being disagreeable.”  What he doesn’t know is that fussing and creating mess is what some folks do on the left and right.

The Rolling Stones’ classic “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” has been in my head all week when thinking about those in the political/policy arena.  Senator Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts was a wake-up call for both political sides.  The Left should learn to take it easy on the center because not all of America is like New York City and L.A.  The Right should learn that I was correct for years: if they produce less bicker candidates in certain situations, they could get more of what they want done.  “You find sometimes…you get what you need.”

(Here’s the creepy sign part) So, I go over to you tube to hear the Stones tune and remember that it was on the soundtrack of the 1983 film The Big Chill—what a movie.  A useless fact is that Kevin Costner was the dead friend Alex in that movie but his flashback scenes were cut.  Can we flashback to the 90s when people could have a civil discussion on issues before voting no. In route to the cemetery, a friend says that her last talk with Alex was about him wasting his life—kind of like blogging.


I have a friend who could be deep in Georgia politics but is busy with a real professional and family life; I say help fix the nation for your children’s future.  For the years, we debated politics and policy in the cafeterias in the Congress and since then over the phone.  She is the reason I know that some people on the Right are actually well-intended but she could do more to improve their methods and techniques. (No reference here to “As Nasty As They Want To Be” by the Too Live Crew.)


In the Big Chill, JoBeth Williams’ character steps up to play the Stones tune on the organ at their friend’s funeral and her character’s name was Karen Bowens.  Oh my goodness, that name is a few letters off from my congressional friend Karen Bogans who should be back in the arena in some capacity.  It’s a sign I tell you. 


I created this seldom-read blog to share the Blue side of our debates and hope that she will share her views from the Right in summary or something.  This blog has a southern bridge on the front page to symbolize the bridge from our southern past to a brighter future. On the Big Chill part with the Stones song, the funeral procession goes over a bridge near Beaufort, South Carolina—thirty-nine miles from the Savannah, Georgia home of my old congressional staffing friend.  That’s deep. 


During the presidential election, I voted for change but fully realized that President Obama would need some people on the Right who would offer constructive criticism in the same manner they did during Clinton presidency and the way the Blue Dogs talked with both Presidents Bush.  During Clinton years, that opposition also helped chill the fiery elements on the far Left.  While I trend toward centrists, our community could use a little political diversity in the form of reasonable people like our Georgia Senators or we might wake up one day and find that the really radical elements of the Right are running things.


The Big Chill was all about old friends remembering what they planned and getting on the productive path.  Let’s bury some of this ugliness like they buried Kevin Costner and move forward.  


Big Chill Soundtrack–music clips


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Africa and Jill Scott look really good in her new HBO series The Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.  The relationship between Africans and African Americans can be rocky because many Africans and West Indians view African Americans in a less than favorable light—weak, poor character, crazy, and no morals.


To use a term from the southern hip hop culture, I must say “naw dawg” to the idea of coming to a country we help build for free and inexplicably turning your African or Caribbean noses up at the descendants of slaves—the descendants of you.  Dr. Martin Luther King’s quote about judging a man not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character should be put into to practice.  Many African Americans think “Africans in America” reflect the whole vast continent but the only recent Africans the people in rural south Georgia have met is an occasionally pushy Nigerian businessman.  Not to say most Nigerians are pushy or to say all Nigerians in Georgia are aggressive—MLK must be really proud of me right now.


To the original point, Jill Scott is lovely and a great test of character: would you still love an intelligent, sharp and beauty person if they got big…really big.  Before the whole BBW movement, there were people who always like bigger people—more of them to love.  I am personally disappointed with young men who marry or “start a family” with round behind young women without understanding that that behind will change with time and the relationship should be based on more…like her smile…okay, I am kidding.


The relationship should be based on many factors including moral and character matters.  What about the complicity of the young lady who involves herself with a shallow guy and hopes it works out.  Maybe those Africans in America have a point.  And what about the contradiction that many bigger women would never date a successful and focused short man or the father from the projects who would never let his middle class daughter date a young man from the projects. 


Should this rambling collection of generalizations and half thoughts be on a political blog?   I think it should be because a better relationship with our African roots could help our American youth develop like a tree with roots—grounded and not fluttering in the wind.  And the political and policy concerns of our community are the results of personal responsibility or lack there of.  With skyrocketing government spending, we must find a way to reduce the cost of programs that address problems shouldn’t be problems at all.  Crime, drugs, fooling around at school and poor parenting should be addressed by deliberate actions and reestablishing our moral compass as Black southerners and Americans of African decent.   


Black, White, Yellow or Brown families should watch the whole Jill Scott series together.  In fact, Scott’s image and style is also encouraging to a growing section of the population called everyone getting big and wearing it well.  I need to run, literally.



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