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05-30-07, Blog Recap: Three for today's theme: failure of Black leadership to lead.
#8, 5-30-07: The Minneapolis affliction of Black leadership being silent on the issues has spread beyond Minneapolis.
#7, 5-30-07: Democrats, again, tell the Congressional Black Caucus when and how to tie their shoes and which streets they can cross.
#6, 5-30-07: "The African-American Roots of Memorial Day": we held the first one. It too has been taken from us, as it gets portrayed as a regional dispute rather than a moral battle about all being created equal. Forgetting this takes away the prize of freedom.
05-30-07, Blog #8: The Minneapolis affliction of Black leadership being silent on the issues has spread beyond Minneapolis.
People have asked me how, in our May 23 column, how I could write, " you can rest assured that Black leadership is not going to raise the issue." This is the affliction of Black organizations across the country, whether in national HQ organizations or state and regional branches. Recall Chapter 14 of my 2004 book, which states: "Black Organizations: Now Part of the Problem Rather Than the Solution." It has gotten worse.
Bob Herbert, in his May 28, 2000 column, "Arrested while grieving," noted two things: first , that our young Black and Hispanic men and women are continually being "routinely searched, harassed, intimidated, humiliated and, in many cases, arrested for no good reason," and second , "Most black elected officials have joined their white colleagues and the media in turning a blind eye to this continuing outrage.
Posted 5-30-07, 6:15 p.m.
05-30-07, Blog #7: Democrats, again, tell the Congressional Black Caucus when and how to tie their shoes and which streets they can cross.
As reported in the NYT article of May 27, 2007 ( For Democrats, Debate on Fox Reveals Divide ),
Three of the major Presidential candidates (Clinton, Edwards, Obama) have withdrawn from the Presidential Debate to be sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus. The Democratic Party front runners didn't like the broadcasting company that would broadcast the debate. The reason: it was going to be broadcast by Fox, and they believe Fox is too conservative, that it "tilts right." What about those stations that tilt to the left. This is a very dangerous attempt at censorship by intimidation.
It must be clearly understood that when the caucus sent its proposal to the major networks, only two responded, Fox and BET, and the best deal offered was by Fox. Is it better to go home or take an offer that pays for the debate, lets you format it and select the moderators? And at the same time the Black caucus would have an opportunity to give their message to a putative conservative audience. And perhaps that is what the three leading candidates don't want: their cattle wondering off thei Democrat's reservation and finding out that maybe there is something of value on the other side of the fence.
Th Congressional Black Caucus began fours years ago in its attempt to find a broadcaster that would "co-sponsor and broadcast a presidential debate to address the concerns of minority voters." We applaud those of the caucus who are rallying around to stick to their guns on this to hold the debate. And stick to it they should. Do they three candidates really think it will hurt their cause to turn down the most visible and vocal Black leadership group?
The more we listen to Hilary and her fairness trumps freedom theme that seems to be Hilary's approach: "I prefer a 'we're all in it together' society," we have to really ask ourselves: does she really want us to be free, or just free to vote for her? Nonetheless, you have to Hilary credit for finding speech writers with nice turns of the phrase:
Hilary also said she would "help people save more money by expanding and simplifying the earned income tax credit; create new jobs by pursuing energy independence; and ensure that every American has affordable health insurance." How is government going to do all of that without raising taxes that will create layoffs that will include minorities as the first out the door?
The proof is in the pudding. We already have, on the books, many of the needed policies to ensure equal access and equal opportunity, justice and fairness. The problem is not a lack of polcies but the intent of governments NOT to enforce them.
For example, the main reason the immigration debate has united so many liberals and conservatives to oppose it, albeit for different reasons, is that government didn't enforce the policies of the 1980s that was supposed to "fix" the illegal immigration question, and, whether it is a correct perception or not, what is correct is that the perception exists that the government won't enforce this one either.
For more examples, see our book, The Minneapolis Story." It is full of such examples, in chapter after chapter. See especially the examples in the main three areas, our chapters on education, jobs, and housing. We continue to expose the gaps in our weekly columns of the past 3 years, and accompanying weblog, reporting on how the governent of Minneapolis, as so many other governments, are defiantly in non-compliance of the fairness statutes in terms of education, jobs and housing. So why will it be different noe? It won't.
Hilary and Bill didn't enforce policies that would have helped minorities when they were President for eight years in the 1990s (except for organizational leaders, self-appointed spokesman, and other well heeled and well dressed sell out), and she hasn't pushed through any legislation to require any enforcement as a Senator, so why would she say it now except to get votes to turn her back on later, once elected?
What we see in this Presidenteial campaign is the same 'ol same 'ol from the Democrats. Not only do they know better, but they are convinced we can't do better by ourselves, hence their refusal to allow education approaches that would reverse the great drop out rate of minorities, as we discuss in our book in terms of the Democrats' 1968 Kerner Commission Reports that states we're different and can't make it on our own and must be wards of the state.
We called it being on the Mississippi Plantation (the Mississippi originates in Minnesota). Neither Hilary nor any other Presidential candidate has suggested any change to the status quo. Thus, we can only assume that we need to work extra hard to keep our eyes on the prize of freedom, and not become seduced by the fill your cup (but only your cup) of the fairness she describes of the Black elites who cater to her. We can envision her "utopia": she and her fellow elites in there "in it together" bubble while the middleclass is given its own "in it together" area to be in, leaving the uneducated inner city youth, especially Black males, in a really bad "in it together" place.
A lot of us were excited about the prospects for Washington, D.C., especially its education system, when Hilary and Bill were elected President in 1992. We remember the debate regarding where Chelsea would go to school. We hoped it would be the public schools which would immediately focus the needed attention on how they could help reverse decades of purposefully bad schools for minorities. Instead, we saw Hilary's "in it together" kind of "fairness" of her and her fellow solons, both Democrats and Republicans, shunning public schools and sending their kids to private schools, where they could be "in it together" with fellow elites, while just saying "no" to Black parents in Washington D.C., Milwaukee, Chicago, etc., who wanted to create their own "in it together" schools of improvement for their kids' schools. We've already had plenty of that kind of "fairness" for the elites and a different fairness for others. We don't need anymore.
Liberal and conservatives have the same view: we African Americans can't cut it on our own. The Black American, particularly the Black American male of the depression era and World War II era, were proud men taking care of business under the most heinous conditions of prejudice driven discrimination. They didn't run around claiming to be vicims. And they didn't run around trying to extort money for their organzations as payoff for ignoring the inner city Blacks.
They never took their eyes off the prize. Blacks, especially so-called (and often self-appointed) Black leaders today, have too easily succumbed to the velvet wool blindfold over their eyes that they took in exchange for their bowl of porridge and turning their backs on the lack of porridge for the poor, who, when the poor ask for a chance for more porridge, they tell them, as Oliver Twist was told, no.
Too many so-called (and self-appointed) Black leaders today "get theirs," at the expense of the rest of us. Martin Luther King, when he went to work in Chicago, lived in the projects, not in an upscale home that so many so-called "modern" Black leaders do, who have lost touch with those in the real communties. This is why we are heartened by the Congressional Black Caucus holding its own in insisting that it will hold its debate.
When Black leaders again stand up for Blacks rather than for what they can get for themselves, we'll know that the prize of freedom is back in view. We must stand up against Congress and city councils that more and more push us further into the back of the bus in favor of other minority groups, many non-racial and with no history of a legacy of slavery to overcome.
Who better to show that we are not the whipping boys and girls to be trotted out every two years for elections than the Congressional Black Caucus? For Hilary and Edwards and Obama to boycott a debate by the Congressional Black Caucus tells us, again, just what kind of fairness they have in find: anything that shows that we will do as are told and stay in our place. May the Congressional Black Causus rise above the many early examples of unfairness shown, especially by Democrats to Blacks in Congress, as seen in Bill Clay's Just Permanent Interests: Black Americans in Congress 1870-1992.
We have been asked why we concentrate on Democrats. Because they control the education rules, job rules, and housing rules in most inner cities of this country, and are kept in power by unions or non-government organizations that provide manpower and funding to enable them to make sure the status quo goes as unchanged as possible.
Posted 5-30-07, 6:15 p.m.
05-30-07, Blog #6: "The African-American Roots of Memorial Day": we held the first one. It honored the moral battle for freedom. Since then slavery and its consequnces have been denied.
It too has been taken from us, as it gets portrayed as a regional dispute rather than a moral battle about all being created equal. Forgetting this takes away the prize of freedom.
As we read in the New York Times On May 28, 2007, Memorial Day got its start after the Civil War, in 1865, when freed slaves and abolitionists gathered in Charleston, S.C., to honor Union soldiers who gave their lives to battle slavery.
As David Blight of Yale Univeristy wrote on May 28, 2007 for the Newhouse newswire, " Thousands of black Charlestonians, most former slaves, remained in the city and conducted a series of commemorations to declare their sense of the meaning of the war [and the sacrifice of the approximately 620,000 soldiers who died in the war]. The largest of these events, and unknown until some extraordinary luck in my recent research, took place on May 1, 1865."
After properly burying Northern soldiers of the prison camp, 10,000 freed black Charlestonians in cooperation with white missionaries and teachers, staged a parade, " led by 3,000 black schoolchildren carrying armloads of roses and singing "John Brown's Body.''
Much of the "jubilee" atmosphere when Blacks created the first Memorial Day (that used to be called Decoration Day, as graves of the fallen soldiers were decorated) was the Black sense of "a ritual of remembrance and consecration," as they boldly celebrated "the triumph of their emancipation over a slaveholders' republic", which transcended notions of "states rights, defense of home, and soldiers' valor and sacrifice."
The rest of the nation caught up in 1968, " when General John A. Logan, commander in chief of the Union veterans' organization, called on all former Northern soldiers and their communities to conduct ceremonies and decorate graves of their dead comrades."
Eventually, over the next 50 years, the day evolved into "a tribute to the dead on both sides, and to the reunion of the North and the South after the war." Too many today used it as an occasion to sew disunion and discord.
No one better reflects the Black fighting man, of any war in which they fought, than the comment made by novelist Pat Conroy (his novels have been made into major theatrical films), that even when America is wrong, she is still worth dying for, because of what she stands for and because of he potential to make lemonade out her lemon decisions.
This was the Black experience in World War II: segregated, discriminated against, unfairly treated, denied equal access and equal opportunity, with injustice and unfairness part of government polcies, allowing Jim Crow law and the stealing of land owned by Blacks, burning their town to the ground with them in it (we cover these in our book). Nonetheless, African Americans of the first half of the 20 th century understood that America was still the land of hope and promise, compared to what the rest of the word was like, and believed if they kept the faith the American Dream would eventually be, if not for them, for their children and grandchildren.
David Blight teaches a lesson tha we ignore at our peril: not letting our story be told, letting our story be erased from the walk of history. By letting Whites forget and by going along and forgetting ourselves, we get forgotten, our dream gets forgotten, and no one remembers there is a prize yet to attian. It took only ten years before Memorial Day celebrations concentrated on the union aspects and almost none on slavery. Why does this matter? Because, as David Blight writes:
"If the Civil War was not a battle to determine whether a nation "dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal" could "long endure," as Lincoln declared in the Gettysburg Address, but a mere regional dispute, there was no need to continue fighting for equal rights.
"And increasingly the nation did not. When Woodrow Wilson spoke at Gettysburg on the 50th anniversary of the battle, in a Memorial Day-like ceremony, he avoided the subject of slavery. [Wilson] declared "the quarrel" between North and South "forgotten ." The ceremony was segregated, and a week later Wilson's administration created separate white and black bathrooms in the Treasury Department . It would be another 50 years before the nation seriously took up the cause of racial equality again.
.... Today, Memorial Day is little more than the start of summer, a time for barbecues and department store sales. Much would be gained, though, by going back to the holiday's original meanings."
Posted 5-30-07, 6:30 p.m.
Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his “watchdog” role for Minneapolis. Order his book, hear his voice, read his solution papers, and read his between columns “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.
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