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Solution Paper #37, posted August 4, 2009
Originally published in November 2002,
in The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes,
by Ron Edwards
The Civil Rights Commission, the NAACP, and Urban League were formed to achieve for the African-American the civil rights announced by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that were at first restricted essentially to White males.
This chapter discusses how the local Minneapolis branches of these time-honored Black organizations have turned from serving Blacks of the community to serving the DFL (Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, the Minnesota state party of the National Democratic Party) giving in to selling out as they are herded by the DFL. These organizations used to do great things. Now they are contributing to the very problems they used to combat. In the beginning there was elite White rule. Now, among African-Americans, we have elite Black rule. These groups no longer serve the interests of inner city Blacks.
There should be no need for a Civil Rights Commission, an Urban League, or an NAACP. That they exist tells us that evil exists and that attempts to return to them exist as well. The worst thing these organizations can do is link up with those committing the evil they were founded to fight. That is the dilemma they find themselves in today. I've spent most of my adult life as a part of these organizations. I have always loved them, and still do, even if they have not always loved me for my criticism regarding what they have done or are doing. My positions with these organizations have included:
I love these organizations. But there comes a time when we have to confront those we love when they are not doing what they ought to be doing. It is said that doing the same thing over and over again yet expecting different results is a definition of insanity. It is also a characteristic of those more concerned with job security than organizational mission. If the inner cities of America are still the left behind areas of the country, there are only two reasons for it: either Blacks are too dumb and lazy or the organizations responsible have given up, for whatever reasons. Experience tells me the former is not true. Experience and observation tell me the latter has occurred, as the key organizations have settled for the grants and government monies that come with being lackeys for the Democrats. It is harsh to say but the results clearly show they have sold out. Too many solutions exist that work in too many places that these groups refuse to try or refuse to champion, especially in education, housing, and jobs. I invite all of you readers who are members of these organizations to give them your encouragement to change to marching again with their eye on the prize of freedom, not on the atta-boys and atta-girls from a favored political party.
The NAACP (The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) (www.naacp.org) was founded by Blacks but has always allowed Whites to join as well (this is very different from many White groups). Its mission:
For more than 93 years, the NAACP has been built on the individual and collective courage of thousands of people. People of all races, nationalities and religious denominations, who were united on one premise--that all men and women are created equal.
However, the 10 initiatives for the next 10 years outlined by the NAACP on its web site are not community-oriented except in the sense of supporting government programs and initiatives tied closely to the Democratic Party. Its focus has changed from social justice issues to social services. It needs to refocus on social justice issues again as well as on Black economic empowerment and wealth generation.
The fact that the NAACP still calls itself the NAACP shows how out-of-touch and out-of-step it is. Few Blacks in America today call themselves a Negro or Colored, and certainly no one under 40 does. Only older elite Blacks think the NAACP is still something. It is not. The money they raise is to keep the organizations going; they serve little in the community except their own cliques. And they don't take a step back to look at who they really are and what they are really doing.
If the name the initials stand for don't mean anything real, how can the organization? The NAACP needs to rethink and reorganize and change its name from NAACP to NAAAP: The National Association of African-American People.
I personally prefer Black. But I am also African-American in the sense that my ancestors came from there. In another sense, African-Americans are probably the only true, real Americans, in that we are the only ones truly self-created here in America. Native Americans have morphed into a culture that is a pale reflection of who they were briefly between the time the Spaniards came and introduced horses to them and when the Whites came who took away their horses and mobilty. As Blacks, we were totally cut off from our people, our languages, our religions, our culture, our way of life. We were literally recreated as a people twice, first by the Mastuhs, as we played the public roles they expected, and secondly as our own people created by ourselves for our true selves when we were not with the Mastuhs. In that sense, we are Negro Americans, Americans created by Negroes. All other groups in America carry traditions and food and stories of "the old country" from which they immigrated. The more immigrant groups as well as Native Americans become educated and assimilated into the mainstream culture and economy, the more they become the "American" to the right of their hyphens. I have heard some remark that American Indians are now the Native American Gamblers or the Gambling Indians. And when enough tribes have casinos, their heritage will be as picturesque and quaint as European Americans dressed in "native" old country clothing for dances no one else dances except at "ethnic festivals" (certainly their kids wouldn't be caught dead wearing them to school dances). Their past will recede as that of both the pre-Columbian and post-Columbian peoples.
The Urban League (www.nul.org) states as its mission: "[To] enable African-Americans to secure economic self-reliance, parity and power and civil rights."
Traditionally, the Urban League has sought "[To] emphasize greater reliance on the unique resources and strengths of the African-American community to find solutions to its own problems."
The Urban League's three-pronged strategy for pursuing the mission is:
These are great goals, but in reality, the Urban League concentrates more on social services and policy analysis than on social justice issues and wealth generation that comes from "economic self-sufficiency." The Urban League needs to stand up for Black education, inclusion, and economic self-sufficiency in actual situations, and stop providing automatic votes for candidates of the Democratic Party, which seeks out Black votes but not Black participation nor Black economic empowerment and wealth generation.
To achieve this, and to suggest getting back to its roots, I suggest that the Urban League needs to enter into alliances with other groups, public and private and then change its name accordingly to "The Urban League of Alliances" or "The Urban Alliance."
The closest the Urban League got to these goals was during the tenure of Vernon Jordan. He very much tended to business, and was helpful to us when he was in town. Given his stature and credentials in this country, including being an advisor to Presidents and sitting on major corporate boards, he would meet directly with the leaders of the Minneapolis corporate community. He was aware of my presence because I would raise issues for the bosses in Minneapolis as well as at the annual Urban League meetings. Local Urban Leaguers brought their concerns about me in Minneapolis in the 1970s to Vernon Jordan. But it is frowned upon in the Urban League to criticize your board, especially just for personal reasons. I was the unpaid Chairman of the Board. Nonetheless, Gleason Glover, then the paid President of the Minneapolis Urban League, started doing so, especially about me. Vernon saw that regardless of whatever petty complaints those jealous of me that they had, he understood that under my leadership we enjoyed continued and expanded funding and growth. From mutual acquaintances in St. Louis and Kansas City, he found out about my pedigree through L. Virgil Miller, and although I was considered by some to be the Black sheep in our family, I was still the real deal.
In the mid-70s, I was the Manager of Environmental Affairs for NSP (Northern States Power), with a staff of over 20, which was prior to my becoming Manager of the Community Affairs Department. Bob Engles, then Chairman of NSP, who was interested in the environment. He served as a mentor to me. He was impressed with my work, and over objections of other company executives, he affirmed my recommendation that Vernon Jordan be the Keynote Speaker for an NSP-sponsored national conference on the environment and how it affects the community. Vernon is a Renaissance man. He had become well-versed in environmental issues, and after hearing him speak on it at an earlier Urban League gathering, I knew he was just the man for a national conference on the environment in Minneapolis. It was the first nation-wide conference on energy and the environment. Glover and others were upset that I was able, on my own and without them, to successfully invite Vernon to speak.
The national Urban League has a covenant with the United Way, as well as with other non-profit organizations, including the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, that in case there is a rebellion and the affiliates go against the wishes and interests of the national, the United Way will cut their funding. The national sends the board of the local branches a list of who is eligible to be considered for the paid position of branch head, which may or may not include a local. Part of the tightness of this control is the result of the time when the Black Panthers and similar groups began to move on these organizations back in the 60s. Most affiliates cave in to the wishes of the national. Unfortunately, despite the passing of that period, the structure remains in place, which leaves the locals too dependent on the national. But affiliates like Minneapolis, where we were getting significant funding from not only the United Way but also government and other sources, took a more independent stance. The national Urban League's largest programs were the Seniors Program and the Employment/Labor Program. The programs and locals were listed by priority, and at the time of my leadership, we were in Category I in all of their programs.
Gleason Glover was eventually forced out and replaced by Gary Suddeth, who was later replaced by Clarence Hightower. After six years with The YMCA, Clarence joined City, Inc., which used to be the controversial non-profit Way organization. The Way was put out of business by the United Way. Paid Urban League Executive Directors became the paid President, and the previously unpaid President became the unpaid Chairman, as they changed terminology to parallel corporate structure better. Despite Hightower being under investigation at City Inc. for irregularities, behind-the-scenes maneuvering resulted in Hightower being elected President of the Urban League, providing the White bosses a person they wanted, as he is a person they can control.
The Civil Rights Commission, which was called the Fair Employment Practices Commission when it was started in 1946 in Minnesota, became the Human Rights Commission in 1964; in 1975 it became the Civil Rights Commission. The Commission is separate from the Civil Rights Department.
The Civil Rights Department is an administrative arm of the City, staffed with paid employees of the city; it investigates filed cases alleging civil rights violations. The Civil Rights Commission is a legislative arm that hears the cases brought by citizens.
All of us on the Commission were unpaid appointees. When I started, it had 15 members. But I was considered so tough to deal with that the City Council, in 1968, demanded and got to appoint another six. I guess that made them feel more comfortable. When they did that, I chuckled and said that was probably the right number so they could have enough to equal me. Since then, there have always been 21 members. Now the powers had to have the commission, but were not sure what it would do. Not trusting inner city people, they "of course" made sure that half of the members appointed were prominent people who lived outside the city. I guess they decided we inner city folks needed help from the good White folks in the suburbs to deal with the inner city. Nonetheless, we worked well together. We had very fine people. We had attorneys who went on to become excellent judges. It was a wonderful group of unpaid yet highly qualified professionals who all shared the same ideals, even if we didn't always share the "hows" to go along with our "what."
According to the web page of the City of Minneapolis, the mission of the Civil Rights Commission is to: "implement the City's Civil Rights policies through public information, education, mediation, conciliation and enforcement as stated in the Minneapolis Code of Ordinances. The primary objective of the Commission is to promote and protect the civil rights of the citizens of Minneapolis."
During my time on the council, as noted below, none of our decisions were ever reversed.
The 1960s were a time of great promise, hope, and expectation. The 1980s were a time of reversing that promise. The last five years have, in some ways, taken us back in some ways to a climate in Minneapolis that is almost like the climate before the 1960s.
In the 1960s, I began my work as an unpaid community advocate. It was tougher then than it is now. As Minneapolis Mayor Arthur Naftalin stated in his inaugural message for his second term, July 1963: "A fire of protest against indignity and denial is burning here as it is elsewhere. It will not be extinguished by promises or pledges that are not translated into action."
He pointed out the need for equal treatment by civic and public agencies and for equal opportunities for education, jobs and housing. Sadly, in terms of the inner city, of North Minneapolis, we are still at that point: the needs remain unfulfilled, now as then, because of "promises or pledges that are not translated into action." It is my contention that the powers that be in Minneapolis are no longer interested in even pretending: they will show the world how they keep the Black person in his or her place.
Mayor Naftalin set up the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission in 1968. I am proud that, as a result of my efforts in the community at the time, I was appointed by the Mayor when I was 28, to be one of the first group of 15 members. Our task was to work on fair employment practices, fair housing, and other anti-discrimination measures.
During the 1980s, I began to formulate my idea that Minneapolis was becoming the great experiment of the last outpost to demonstrate how to keep Blacks where they "belong" began, as Minneapolis began to work toward a de facto reversal of the Civil Rights laws in Minneapolis just as the Jim Crow laws had achieved the de facto reversal of the 13 th -15 th Amendments in the Southern states. The 13 th Amendment ended slavery and servitude. The 14 th Amendment counts each citizen as a whole, not as a fraction, as Negroes were before. The 15 th Amendment granted all citizens in all states the right to vote.
A major change in the 1980s came when civil rights was no longer interpreted in terms of race, which was to enable Blacks to better play catch-up after 300 years of slavery but instead began to be defined in terms of victim groups based on gender and sexual orientation. Thus, the Civil Rights Commission, which was traditionally against racial discrimination, is no longer about civil rights as that term was traditionally defined. It is now open to all kinds of new groups, now called "protected classes," which includes not only those of gender and sexual orientation, but the physically challenged (who used to be classified as "handicapped").
I'm not opposed to these groups working out how to obtain their rights as well, but it is not the same thing. The key is that most of these groups are White, which defeats and ignores the original purpose.
For instance, the number of White women who joined the police department in 1984 exceeded the number of black police officers, male and female, in the entire police department. And the number of female officers in the police and fire departments outnumbered all of the African-Americans. The trend in Minneapolis has been to hire fewer Black officers. And it is critically important to have Black police officers in the neighborhoods of a city that is over 30% Black, for all that inner city kids see today is White cops stopping Black kids, day after day. The message in their minds would be very different if it were Black cops stopping Black kids. Then drugs and guns would no longer be a Black thing to be defended against Whites but a neighborhood thing to be freed from. And yet, how can the police inspire the neighborhood when people feel subjected to endless daily harassment by them and their verbal drive-bys, shouting racist comments and giving them the finger. That is neither kind nor courteous nor civil. And I could also make the case that the situation resulting in the young White female police officer being killed by the Black woman in her 60s in August 2002 (Chapter 16) might not have happened had the police officer been Black.
With Civil Rights now being defined in other terms, such as gender, sexual orientation, and physical disabilities, the quotas become dramatically changed. For example, if the desire is to hire 24 fire fighters and 18 police officers, and that within these goals, 30% have to be minorities, and the latter is defined as 50% and within those 25% lesbians, that means that the African-American numbers shrink as it pertains to inclusion.
Now please, dear reader, do not say I am making a negative comment about the gays or women or what used to be called the handicapped. I am not. What I am saying is that no other group can claim equivalency with Blacks: not women, not gays, not the physically handicapped, not any group. They didn't endure slavery, Jim Crow laws, the Ku Klux Klan, and segregated lunch counters and practically segregated everything else. The difference between their experiences compared to those of Blacks is huge. Also, there are no inner city ghettoes of women or gays or the physically disabled.
This new reinterpretation enables other groups, and in Minneapolis the other group most benefiting is what is called the GLBT community (gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgendered), to take away from the Black community, especially in housing (Chapter 8). Women are not a statistical minority, yet for legal purposes are compared that way. They have the voting clout, as women make up over 50% of the population. Gays are a legitimate minority but want majority status and privileges. To appoint, as was done in 1984, a gay White woman as head of the City's Civil Rights Department, who was not even from Minneapolis, was to turn the whole Civil Rights Movement on its head. Women are not a legitimate minority, but have gotten proclaimed so nonetheless. Not that woman and gays and the physically challenged don't have their own grievances, but to lump them together is to trivialize and marginalize Blacks. That is what I'm opposed to. And let us be realistic. The 20 th century wars slaughtered mostly young men, and indeed, the majority of the tens of millions killed in the 20 th century were White males. So everyone has a grievance. But none like Black men and women with their history along with Federal policy based on the false notion that says they can't make it on their own, and are thus denied access to the economic mainstream given to others. That so many have succeeded anyway is a testament to the Black soul, not White support.
My protest against having a White woman as head of the Civil Rights Department in 1984 was not because she was White or gay , but because it solidified the further erosion and watering down of civil rights, giving non-Blacks equal if not greater weight than Jim Crowed Blacks. That Whites cannot understand the deep insult to and trivialization of Blacks that this represents. It is another example of their deep racism, even if they can't see it themselves. As various stories in the papers have noted, Blacks' issues are getting pushed aside in favor of "pornography and domestic partnership." These confrontations between White feminists and Blacks often make it seem as if White women don't care about women who are Black.
Civil Rights was, is, and should be about prejudice and discrimination based on race in jobs and housing. To add pornography and partnership issues as if they have suffered the same as Blacks in terms of discrimination in education, jobs and housing, is the equivalent of their turning their collective White backs on Blacks. This is what I fought. To ask for a conciliatory tone and approach from those who are being forcefully shoved aside on the Civil Rights agenda is to make a mockery of the terms "negotiate in good faith" or of "reconciliation" or "consensus," when the consensus of the majority is to boot out the concerns of Blacks. Women and gays and the handicapped have to understand that the kinds of devastation delivered to Blacks should and must take priority. I have never excluded women, gays, or the physically challenged. But I am not in favor of letting them replace Blacks or act as if there is an equivalency, when there decidedly is not.
You can also see this in the construction industry, where there are actually more White women on the construction sites of Minneapolis than there are Blacks.
For me, the 1980s ended when the Minneapolis Urban League tried to set me up in August 1989, when the national Urban League held its annual meeting in San Francisco. It was the first conference ever that Gleason Glover, the paid President of the Minneapolis Urban League, did not attend. He stayed back to help the Feds put together a late raid on the Urban League, in order to find evidence in the files against me. Of course there was none. There never is, because I have never done anything wrong with the Urban League or the NAACP or the Civil Rights Commission, or any other group, now or in the past.
While I was in San Francisco, Glover was telling people that the local stations, WCCO radio and WCCO-TV, would be breaking a major story about a civil rights leader who was fooling around. Me. Well, that, of course was not true.
They were out to get me because Minneapolis Mayor Don Frasier felt I had stepped over the bounds in regards to Sales Seron Scott, shot and killed by White Minneapolis police, when I got the case reopened because of my relationship with a good friend who had a very good relationship with then U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese. And Glover had his own reasons. He was compromising staff for personal favors in order for them to maintain their employment and was supported by what I consider a bunch of thugs. WCCO even had the title of the story they planned to run before they went out to investigate, they were so sure of themselves: "Betrayal of Trust: The Shame of a Civil Rights Leader."
Glover and others has guaranteed WCCO that they would get the goods on Ron Edwards, and they would be able to "destroy the phony loudmouthed hypocritical SOB." Truth may set you free. But not everyone wants the truth to be told, and not being able to hide it can make people angry. My understanding of the WCCO plotting came from Isaiah "Ike" Watkins. He wanted me to tell this story some day. That day has come. This is another story I never told before. Ike was a great guy. His father and grandfather were born in southwest Minnesota. Indeed, we think that the Black guy in the story of Little House on the Prairie in Walnut Grove was probably his father. Ike was born in Denver, and then moved to Minneapolis in the 1950s. Ike was one of my great friends. Ike had six daughters, one of whom was a TV/News anchor in NewYork City. She had a highly placed White friend at WCCO who told her father that WCCO had spent $75,000 to send their investigative reporter Al Austin and others out to San Francisco to investigate me, an investigation that turned up nothing on me. I was my usual hard-working self, attending all working sessions. They bugged my room, tapped my phone, followed me with hidden cameras, and still came up with nothing.
Now understand what is so unique here: Glover for years had always gone to the annual conference two days early for the Presidents' meetings with the national leaders. We usually sent 12-18 people, including at least 5 board members and at least 5 staff members.
Glover told CCO that they could get me with women and drugs in San Francisco. Now, first off, that was never my scene. But, again, people accuse you of things they do, as many people assume what they do is natural and therefore others must be doing it too. Of course Glover couldn't do this on his own. He was controllable, just doing the bidding of the Mastuhs. This whole plan was actually masterminded by Mayor Don Fraser and his Police Chief Tony Bosa.
On a day early in the conference, after the sessions, a couple of us went to a party hosted by the NAACP. There were lots of women, but no Urban Leaguers. And we saw what looked like undercover cops as well as a camera discreetly placed, which I would not have noticed if it if it hadn't been for its red light. When someone sat down next to us and poured some white powder on the glass coffee table, I knew it was time to leave. We immediately said that because we were taking Nellie Stone Johnson (Interlude 3) out for dinner, which, in fact we were, we had to leave, and then promptly did so. It was a set-up, and I was just beginning to develop an understanding of the magnitude of it, the full ramifications of which would not hit home until after we returned after the conference.
The next day I was cool about it, as I watched the scene carefully to check out the heavy stuff in play. Our Minnesota State Human Rights Director, Linda Johnson, was there, walking hand in hand with her man, whom she had made Assistant Commissioner. We chatted briefly and then headed for the escalator. I looked up and saw five individuals, one holding a video camera. The call letters were taped over on the camera. As I looked more closely I saw a guy who had been watching me on the airplane on the flight out four days earlier. So I turned my back on them, put my hand behind my back as if to scratch it, waved at them. Those who saw this incident still laugh when they think or talk about it. And then at the bottom of the escalator I ran into Linda Johnson.
Poor Linda. WCCO, having made a big deal about their pending exposé, couldn't come back empty-handed. While we were out there, they had already begun to run teasers: "CCO's investigative team with Al Austin taking a look at civil rights leaders who don't serve their people." We heard about the teasers in San Francisco and so the parlor game for us was to try to guess who. We had no idea who in particular the were referring to. Because they were running teasers about facts they allegedly had, and as I hadn't done anything, I didn't think it could be. That didn't explain the behavior I saw but I didn't put them together until after I got back. Four days after we got back, we were glued to the TV to see the report. They showed the Urban League convention with words of what its expectation were, along with file footage, and finally said: "During CCO's investigation of those who have betrayed the trust, we followed," and then they focused on Commissioner Linda Johnson. As I looked at the footage, I saw that it was the same as when I was there. Then they showed the scene of her and her man and me talking at the escalator, but with no mention of me. What I learned later is that by Day 4, Al Austen had called back to say Ron Edwards was only attending sessions. The general manager of CCO, who had never forgiven me for being a Black militant years before, was now finally going to get me for running my mouth for 20 years. They had hired six deputies for their protection, "just in case," as I was considered a "bad Negro." So the WCCO expose turned out to be about Linda and her man. They told the governor's office. She was then told to submit her expense account within 48 hours of returning. She didn't see it coming. She padded it, of course, to cover the expenses of her man. Nothing about human rights or race relations, but a tawdry little expense account scandal was all they could show. She was forced to resign.
Two weeks after we returned from San Francisco, another play was made on me when the Urban League was raided. We were at the office of John Derus, the County Chairman, on the 24 th floor. Gary Suddeth was called out of the meeting and then returned to tell us that the police, with warrants, were raiding the Urban League, and that it was about me. The raid was led by David Neber, my arch enemy, as described in Chapter 3. They took out thousands of documents. And of course they had the media there. And the reporters were shouting: "What do you have to say about the allegations that you have been involved in the theft of $5,000 and other money?" I told them I knew nothing about it.
We went to Glover's office where he had the cameras and reporters waiting. I was told I had forged a check and that I had forced the White controller to go along with it. Of course I had done no such thing. Which was what the Grand Jury decided also after hearing the evidence or, more properly phrased, lackiing any evidence. They saw it all as nonsense, and dismissed it and declined to indict me.
Another accusation was the use of long-distance calls from the Urban League (they even had wiretaps of calls made from the Urban League). It was true that I made calls but they were for Urban League business. They were not personal. . And where were these calls made to? South Africa. And not just me. They involved calls made that included a number of us Board members, together on the speaker phone, including Nellie Stone Johnson, in calls to Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, and to the journalist Erich Duma. After the dust settled this too was all seen to be proper and above board. We had called Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. Erich Duma, a journalist in South Africa, had come to me about the Sullivan principles (explained beginning in he next paragraph below) and Apartheid and the boycott, as the University of Minnesota Board of Governors had refused to apply sanctions to companies dealing with South Africa. South Africa was also tapping Duma's phone. He had been arrested in South Africa and tortured in the 1970s, during which time they cut off two of his fingers.
Rev. Leon Sullivan, who has been called by some the most influential man of his time, was raised in a shanty off a dirt alley in abject poverty. He rose to become a member of the Board of Directors of General Motors, and from that position, waged a humanitarian battle for those who lived in the poverty he knew only so well when he was growing up. He loved to tell inner city Black kids his story, and that even though they were poor, they still had pride. He used to say, if you want to excel in this world: "STAND UP, STAND UP, STAND UP."
Sullivan's humanitarian work has had a global influence, especially in South Africa, where he was instrumental in getting companies to fight apartheid in their plants and in the communities surrounding their plants. He was also instrumental in helping get Nelson Mandela freed from prison, who had been incarcerated for 28 years for his active protest of apartheid three decades earlier. His message then is still valid today, as he urged kids to dedicate themselves to learning, working hard and believing in themselves. " He told these eager faces that they were like balloons, and that " It ' s not your color that makes you rise or fall, but what ' s inside of you. Believe you can be anything you want. "
When he died a few years ago he was on his latest mission, which was to revitalize all of Africa. His goal was to encourage foreign investment, build 1,000 new schools and modernize medical facilities on the continent. His goal had been to encourage investment, build schools and hospitals and strengthen democratic institutions. America and Africa lost a lot when he died. Indeed, his work in Liberia was cut short by his death in his late 70s in the late 90s. It may be that had he lived, Liberia would not have descended into the Civil War that so devastated it. As the co-producer of a film on his life said, he was "a man who fights without fists ... a man who is not blind to injustice but is blinded by a fury to right the scales."
In the early 1960s, Sullivan led a Philadelphia-wide boycott of Philadelphia companies that would not hire Blacks, using the mantra, "Don't buy where you don't work." Life magazine named him one of the country's 100 leading citizens and described him as an invigorating presence because of his dedication to the public good (learn more about Leon Sullivan in his book, Moving Mountains, and at http://www.horizonmag.com/8/leon-sullivan.asp). You can read of Leon Sullivan's Six Principles. But Minneapolis was not interested in the Sullivan Principles. In general, from his position on the GM board, he called on American multinationals to pay all people equally, train non-Whites for professional jobs and create an overall atmosphere of tolerance. "Every business, large and small, can find a way to improve the standard of life for poor people who need help in America and in the world." Yes, but not in Minneapolis. GM said it would disinvest in South Africa if they didn't end apartheid. Sullivan's Opportunities Industrialization Centers is what the Urban League should be backing.
Nellie and I and the rest enjoyed our conversations with Bishop Tutu and were excited about the possibility of his coming to the University of Minnesota. But his phones in South Africa were tapped too. The Apartheid South African government called the U.S. The Feds in turn contacted Minneapolis. We were going to bring Bishop Tutu to the University for a lecture. Local officials, public and private, didn't want Bishop Tutu brought to the University because of the disinvestments issue according to the Sullivan principles. They didn't want a campus movement in favor of disinvestments when the University had already determined it would not divest nor favor divestment. I have explained how powerful the University is (Chapter 10).
So once again, their effort to discredit me failed. But that did not stop them from trying again.
The Urban League tried to damage me again during the investigation of Luther Darville and the University of Minnesota (Chapter 10). I spoke often by Bob Minnix, the chief investigative reporter for the NCAA. I was the only one to testify for Luther at the trial (Chapter 10). They had hoped to also disgrace me for perjury for what I said on the witness stand that I had talked to Minnix a number of times and was familiar with the charges. Glover had said I had only talked to Minnix once, hence the perjury. He was wrong but didn't know it. But by this time Nellie and I had already been kicked out of the Urban League. Nonetheless they kept trying.
So the City officials called Minnix and, not realizing he was Black, told him that they were investigating Rod Edwards for committing perjury at the Luther Darville trial. He heard them say, "We want to nail the bastard, that Black SOB." There were six individuals in the room tape-recording their call to Minnix, gleeful that they were now going to "get" me.
Glover was protected from his shenanigans by cooperating so they didn't go after him for his Urban League activities. Instead of downsizing the staff, Glover began selling off Urban League properties purchased by the League during my long tenure as Vice Chairman and Chairman, which had been part of my drive toward self-sufficiency. Together, these properties were worth $3.5 million. He impoverished the League. He was also involved in the same kind of activity, as Linda Johnson had been caught for. But the Mastuhs would let him be if he would help "get" me.
And so, despite setting up two grand juries, all White, to try to find me guilty of something so they, in their minds, would no longer have to deal with the notorious Ron Edwards, their efforts were futile, as I was never part of anything improper. As always, I decline to be hung out to dry. The ones who do little for our people and lots for themselves, like Glover and Hightower, get off, because the bosses don't want them doing anything for our people. And they like to hold their inappropriate activities over their heads to keep them in line.
They asked Minnix if he knew me. He said yes. They did not know that his office was in Shawnee Mission, Kansas, not far from my mother's home in Kansas City. They asked him if he had ever talked to me. He said yes. They asked him how many times. He said that, over the last several months, as he investigated the University, he had talked to me over 200 times, including face-to-face meetings in Kansas. He confirmed my testimony. That ended yet another attempt to "get" me.
It should be noted that after the Urban League had double-crossed Nellie Stone Johnson as well as me, Governor Rudy Perpich was no longer available to meet with their leaders. As Rudy put it, he wasn't interested in talking with any organization that did not have room for a Ron Edwards or a Nellie Stone Johnson.
Some final thoughts on my tenure as Civil Rights Commission Chairman
I was last involved with the Civil Rights Commission in 1983 and the Urban League in 1989. My concern today is about the redistricting and the continuing destruction of the futures of young Black males in Minneapolis. Nonetheless, because many don't know about the work done back then, I want to list some key statements about the work we did. It was important then. It is important now. I could write many chapters on the work we did; instead, I want to just clarify for the record the work these 21 people did together, year-in and year-out (although it was never the same 21 each year). I played key roles from 1967 - 1983. But I was not alone. It couldn't have been done without these superb people. Here is what is important to know about the work of these people during that period:
To add to my last bullet point: Pam Alexander, Michael Davis and Lajune Lang all became good friends and all went on to become outstanding judges, Michael as a Federal Judge and Pam and Lajune as State District Judges. It is because of them that we were considered one of the best Civil Rights Commissions in the country.
One of my favorite newspaper stories of the time was in the November 18, 1982 Twin Cities Courier , with the heading "Edwards' rejection could now awaken the 'Sleeping giant'," which discussed how my reappointment to the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission for another three-year term had been rejected by the City Council on a 7-6 vote (I was reinstated later when then Mayor Fraser vetoed them).
Now we all hope our government leaders are grown-ups and will not act like pouting little kids in the play yard, as far greater things are at stake than personal likes and dislikes.
As the City Council couldn't come out and say they were opposed to Black progress they could go after the guy promoting it. And when they are quoted in the papers, the best they could do was accuse me of not having enough "Minnesota Nice," which is more important to many than is justice. They were reduced to not attacking what I stood for or my goals but me personally:
Note, the grievances of the City Council were not substantive, and had nothing to do with civil rights. They were all personal. They wanted a Minnesota nice boy to go along with their continued blockage of Civil Rights progress. Here is what my supporters on the Council said about the value of my work and legacy:
My leadership was missed. Indeed, two years later, three of the commission members resigned. Here is what various City Council members said later:
Some of my detractors also accused me of being mainly concerned about discrimination against Black males. In truth, I included all classes with grievances. I was all in favor of including everyone but not at the expense of Blacks in general and certainly not at the expense of the group with the largest grievances, young Black males.
And what was the result of putting Mary Emma Hixson, a gay white woman, in as Director of the Civil Rights Department? As reported in 1987, in the minds of Blacks, under Director Hixson, the office demonstrated an anti-Black and anti-male bias, as the power and emphasis shifted from Blacks to White feminists.
The Last Five Years
Some have called me a Jeremiah after the Old Testament prophet who was constantly railing at the Israelites to obey God. I take that as a compliment. I continue to rail against the Urban League and NAACP for not following their own stated missions, for not putting inner city Blacks first, for seeking primarily personal or institutional survival, and for turning away from saying to the bosses, as Moses once said: "Let my people go."
As I noted earlier, when I say "corrupt" I mean it in a moral sense. Too many Black leaders today are deluded, mesmerized by decades of government help and support, and unwilling or unable to stand up against such obvious miscarriages of justice with Blacks, as when $1 billion is used to tear down our homes and replace them with only 52 units (Chapter 8). Or standing by while our kids are not taught to read or write (Chapter 7). Or standing by while our young Black men are sent to jail rather than provided jobs (Chapter 9). Talking about it won't help. Without providing solutions, what is the point other than to make the White man feel good that so many so-called "good" Blacks are talking about it, showing everyone how well Blacks and Whites agree that it is a sad state of affairs, and that nothing can be done about it.
I completely reject that. When people say society isn't ready, it is because too many Blacks have sold out. We didn't in the 50s and 60s. Black leaders today have too many Blacks thinking they can't make it without them. And if Blacks don't think they can why would Whites attempt to help us too? People need to admit that they are afraid yet still committed. Its not like walking into lunch counters and risking getting beaten for sitting there or risking getting beaten for crossing the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma in a march to the Alabama capital in Montgomery.
The White Citizens' Council of the 50s and 60s had one strategy: delay, delay, delay. Why now do the local Minneapolis chapters of the Urban League and the NAACP do the delaying for the Whites? We were once prepared to direct our future, to create our own lives, and then we faltered. Can we do it by ourselves? When you look at the advancement made by Blacks against all that is arrayed against us, the answer can only be: "you bet we can." Can we do it with each other's help? Absolutely. So lets help each other. And let us direct the government on how they can help us, not the other way around.
We need to return to the days when Clarence Mitchell, head of the NAACP's Washington Bureau, walked the halls of Congress in the 1950s and 60s, taking the case to legislators to make the Constitution a reality for Blacks as well. His influence was substantial. He was called the 101 st Senator. He walked fast, he went to every Senator's and Congressman's office, and those offices that did not throw him out bodily he took as favorable (some Senators refused to meet with "the Ni**er"). He didn't pause for lunch or for a drink in the afternoon. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. It was said of Clarence he didn't rest, didn't eat, didn't drink, just got called names and kept on working. He didn't take his eyes off the prize.
I was on the Pilot City Planning Committee in the late 60s. What a wonderful facility Pilot City is today. And yet if you visit, you'll find many white bureaucrats using it for their offices. Indeed, the Whites of Hennepin County, who supply 64% of its budget, want to shut it down as a community center. And what is needed to keep it going? A few dollars. When Jawanza Kunjufu (educational consultant, www.AfricanAmerianImages.com ) spoke at Pilot City on November 1, 2001, he pointed out that all that was needed was $1.5 million. He made the point that when you take care of your own, you don't need to march or be on welfare. All that was required to provide the $1.5 million for the budget, Kunjufu said, was for 1,500 Blacks in the Twin Cities to give $100 each, to keep Pilot City free of Hennepin County. And yet we are so addicted to government funds that that idea didn't fly. And why not, when Blacks are sitting there saying Hennepin County has the money, for after all they have no problem funding the $7 million cost-overrun on the prison. But the latter is being built by Whites to house Blacks. Some say it's not fair. They willwait until Hennepin County does the right thing. No. The real issue is that we take care of business and not wait for others to do it for us. We need to do the right thing and handle it ourselves. If 1,500 of us can't come up with $100, we have a much deeper problem. And, with 150,000 Blacks in Minneapolis, $10 from 1,500 would also do it. Are they right, we need Whitey's help? What are we willing to do for ourselves?
And as for you Whites who want to blame everything on one or two Whites to get the rest of you off the hook, I remind you of the real truth of the matter, as spoken by Martin Luther King Jr.:
I'm here to tell you that the businessmen, the mayor of this city, and everybody in the White power structure of this city must take responsibility for everything [any white official or company] does in the community.
But he had a word for Blacks as well, assessing their role in the misfortune that happens to Blacks, when we:
Passively accept the evils of segregation and stand on the sidelines in the struggle for justice. ...we must work unrelentingly to make the American dream a reality.
Why the continued request from Whites for us to wait and to cool off? We need to remember the message James Farmer sent to Bobby Kennedy in 1961. Bobby Kennedy asked Martin Luther King, Jr., to intercede with James Farmer of CORE (Congress of Racial Equality), in 1961, to halt the Freedom Ride, an interracial group riding on busses going through the deep South, duplicating the 1947 Freedom Ride through the upper South, in order to enable a cooling-off. Farmer sent back word that Blacks had been waiting 350 years and that if they cooled off any more they'd be in a deep freeze.
Black Like Us? Only if they Treat us as Equals.
When Maya Angelou called Bill Clinton "the first Black President," I knew we were in for more trouble. Clinton is not to blame for her saying it but he is to blame for basking in it. His apologies to Blacks in Africa for slavery were as wrong as it could get. He should have been apologizing to Blacks in America for what the Democratic Party has done to them, and he should have been attempting to make things right in terms of the land and wealth stolen from Blacks (Interlude 8, pp. 141-146), in this country (not to mention the theft of so many generations' education, housing, and jobs).
White people thinking they know Blacks and thinking that they are like Blacks, as in Angelou's first Black President comment, was a foreshadowing of the March 17, 1999, City Pages article, "Black Like Us," featuring the faces of Dee Long, Phyllis Kahn, Don Fraser, and his wife Arvonne Fraser, all of whom are White. When I saw that, I also knew we were in trouble. I quote from this article not because it provides anything new, as it will sound repetitive, but because it supports my arguments and provides the evidence some will claim should be here in case my eyewitness accounts are not enough.
When the South Minneapolis Sabathani Community Center opened its doors on January 9, 1999, for the election of officers for the local chapter of the NAACP, we saw a long line of people waiting to vote, most of whom were White. At stake, as The City Pages article points out, were "costly, long-term city and state projects." They wanted the "right" Blacks in charge. Leola Seals, President of the local NAACP branch, had questioned some of these projects, especially the Hollman public housing lawsuit handling and the racist nature of the Minneapolis Police Department's CODE4, which was the code for stopping Blacks.
They did not want Ms. Seals in charge. Because of her background, they viewed her as a field hand who didn't mix with the high falutin' elitist house Negroes. As the article pointed out, "At public functions Seals is rarely as well-dressed or as smoothly spoken as the people who last summer started organizing her ouster." When she was elected, "she promised to tackle a series of issues on which the NAACP had been silent or tactfully low-key."
This line-up of Whites trying to influence the outcome of the election was not new. In the 1964 election, Thomas Johnson II seemed a shoo-in, but he had radical views. So on the morning of the 1964 election, "several school buses packed with 'little old white ladies" clutching brand-new NAACP membership cards pulled up at the polling place." Where did they come from? As the article points out, they were "recruited by the DFL."
This episode shows how far off-track the NAACP has become from its original mission. Recall its proud history, as it evolved from fighting discrimination in the workplace in the 1930s and 1940s to fighting segregation in housing and local businesses in the 1950s and 1960s, and finally, the greatest of their battles, the battle against segregated public education. This meant taking on the massive public education system and all its supporters, mostly White.
We thought we were on the right course, fighting segregated housing, that forced Blacks into bad housing and segregated schools that forced Blacks into poor schools. But of course many Whites didn't see it that way. When a Federal judge sided with the Minneapolis NAACP in 1973 and ordered the integration of public schools, all hell broke loose. We won the battle but it was a costly victory, as it has kept us from winning the war. Whites, who made up 80% of the public schools of Minneapolis, voted with their feet. Between 1974 and 1989 the number of public school students dropped from 55,000 to 40,000, of which now only 50% were White. And in some schools, the percentage of minority students climbed to 95%. And it has gotten worse since then.
We lost the war because by 1995, minority students were concentrated in the inner city in inferior and inadequate schools getting an inferior and inadequate education. Bill Davis, then President of the local NAACP, filed suit against the state of Minnesota for "failing in its constitutional duty to provide an adequate education for all children." When Leola took over in 1996, she focused it even further: demanding that school officials improve test scores of minority and low-income children. Why? Because when it came to the state's basic-skills test, 95% of Black students failed. She also focused on the fact that the city, state, and federal governments, through their handling of the Hollman housing issue, had created a segregated public housing district in the near North side. This was another battle won that didn't win the war, as all that was accomplished was the demolition of the housing of Blacks in North Minneapolis with few units being put up in return (Chapter 8). She also fought the idea of the money going to the city's handpicked White developers.
To the Whites, this uppity Black had to go. Whites particularly looked for new members to help vote their way. I cannot be called impartial, as I was also running for election, for the Executive Committee, on the Leola Seales slate. And so, in the early hours of the voting at the polling place, the ratio of Whites to Blacks was 3 to 1 (late in the day that reversed). Our slate lost. And so Whites turned out to determine the election results of a minority's advocacy group's volunteer officers. The Whites won. We lost by 16 votes, 218-202. However, 22 votes were challenged, 18 were not counted, and 3 were "lost." As we lost by 16 votes, these votes could have given us the win.
The Whites succeeded in making our NAACP Branch into an arm of the city's DFL. They succeeded in driving a wedge between the in-crowd of Black NAACP members and the low-income and poverty-level Blacks whom the NAACP is supposed to support but does not. One of the first things the Black slate elected by the Whites did was to drop the lawsuit against the White state regarding the poor education of Black kids.
The most recent attempt to silence me came this year. On the following pages are copies of the following documents:
Here is the problem. It is 2002, and yet neither the NAACP nor the Urban League want to rock the boat. They also don't want the truth to come out. So after my decades of service, of trying to get them to focus on the community and the poor, they attempted to boot me out over a procedural issue, saying I had not handed in monthly written reports. On paper, this is true. But in practice, few at the Branch ever do, including those who are accusing me. We are volunteers. We are unpaid. So most of us report orally, rather than in writing, to those staffers who are paid. After years and years of loyal service, they have come at me hiding behind unconstitutional organizational nonsense, as you will see in the following copies of our correspondence and the copy of the grievance that I filed.
Why have they done this? The simple answer is: because they can, because the law means nothing more to them than it seems to mean to anyone else in high visibility lately, including Presidents, Vice Presidents, CEOs and auditors. We seem to be living in a time when it's not about the law but how to get around the law and, more importantly to write laws to allow taking advantage of the system in unjust ways. In other words, people in the headlines seem to have stopped concentrating on principles and are concentrating on spoils. The same is true with the Urban League and the NAACP.
True Copy of Letter from the Minneapolis NAACP to Ron Edwards (my bold emphasis added) (followed by my response)
MINNEAPOLIS BRACH NAACP
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE
310 East 38 th Street, Suite 136, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55408 612-822-8205
April 5, 2002
Shalia M. Lindsey P.O. Box 11363-55411
PRESIDENT Minneapolis, MN 55411
Darrell Graham Dear Mr. Edwards:
FIRST VICE PRESIDENT
SECOND VICE PRESIDENT
THIRD VICE PRESIDENT
Mr. Ron Edwards
I want to thank you for your service and commitment to the Minneapolis
Branch as its Housing Chair. At times your breadth of knowledge on housing issues, among other topics, assisted the Branch in devising a strategy in
addressing housing issues. Nonetheless I am writing to inform you that I have made a decision to relieve you of your duties as the Housing Chair immediately.
As of November 2001, I specifically mandated that all members of the Executive Committee turn in monthly written reports as stated in Article IV, Section 2b and Article IV, Section 5s of the NAACP By-laws. Your duty as an executive Committee member, as it relates to written reports , was further reiterated at the State Conference Training in Rochester. To date I have not received a formal written report from you as Housing Chair, nor do I recall receiving a written report at any time during my tenure as Branch President.
Your recent testimony before the City of Minneapolis Redistricting Commission caused great concern at the Branch. I have independent verification that you made comments as the MN-Dakota State Political Action Chair, on municipal redistricting matters that undermined the authority of the Branch and confused the Commission members as to whether the State Conference or the local Branch had the authority to discuss issues surrounding the municipal redistricting process. The testimony you provided was both misleading and confusing. Your testimony served to undermine and hinder the efforts of the local Branch to effectively work within its jurisdiction on these types of matters.
I am further disappointed in your use of confidential Branch information on your television show. I have not authorized any public comments relative to the Hollman Lawsuit nor the status of documentation regarding the lawsuit contained in the Branch, Regional, and National offices. Again, your statements could only serve to undermine and hinder the efforts of the Branch.
Based on the above, not only have your actions and comments been unfavorable to the Branch, they may have caused irreparable harm to the organization , something I am sworn to prevent . Your conduct is inimical to the NAACP. I have serious doubts that your continued duties as the Housing Chair will be constructive or productive in the long run as I attempt to steward the Branch into the future.
As President, I do not condone your behavior and therefore am relieving you of your duties as an Executive Committee chair.
I hope you will continue your participation in the Branch as a general body member. Your wisdom and knowledge can be useful in that capacity.
Shalia M. Lindsey
Cc: Executive Committee Members, Minneapolis Branch, Claudie Washington, MN-Dakota State Conf. Pres., Rev. Gil Ford, Region IV Director
True Copy of Response to the Minneapolis NAACP to Ron Edwards (my bold emphasis added) (I received no response to this letter from the NAACP, national or local)
Ronald A. Edwards
Chair, Minneapolis NAACP Housing Committee
Political Action Chair, Minnesota -- Dakota Conference of NAACP
P.O. Box 11363-55411,
Minneapolis, MN 55411
Date: April 7, 2002
Director of National Field Operations
4805 Mt. Hope Drive
Baltimore, Maryland 21215
Enclosed please find a petition of utmost urgency. My petition to you involves actions and collusion between members of the Minneapolis NAACP , their Executive Committee and the Minneapolis Urban League Branch in violation of the NAACP's constitution and bylaws . This combined action is an attempt by these bodies to influence redistricting in the City of Minneapolis to defeat the only Minneapolis African-American Council member in future elections .
Most recently, the chair of the Minneapolis NAACP, Shalia Lindsey, in a letter to me dated April 5, 2001, demanded my removal from the Housing Committee and the Executive Board of the Minneapolis NAACP. Her action is clearly retaliation against me for strong advocacy for African-American residents and plaintiffs in the Hollman lawsuit and as expressed in my December 15, 2001 report to Lindsey and the NAACP. The result of these actions is an attempt to intentionally denigrate and defame my reputation as a member of the Minneapolis Branch and as political chair of the Minnesota - Dakota Conference of the NAACP. I intend to address the latter defamation in the very near future.
Since this colluded and illegal redistricting action has moved past the recommendation stage and will be considered and acted on in a few days by the Minneapolis Redistricting Commission, it is imperative that your body takes action on my petition at deliberate speed to prevent harm to this elected official and to my reputation and standing in the community. If you choose not to proceed in a timely manner, I will have no other choice but to bring an action in court asking for the rescission of the recent action as violate of the Constitution and Bylaws of the NAACP.
All relevant materials including my petition are attached.
I will expect your inquiry and response shortly.
Ronald A. Edwards
Minneapolis NAACP Executive Committee
Cc: Kweisi Mfume, President
Julian Bond, Chairman
True Copy of April 1, 2002 Minneapolis NAACP Minutes (my bold emphasis added)
Minneapolis Branch NAACP
Minutes of Special Executive Meeting 4/1/02
Purpose of Meeting: Approve Branch's Proposed Redistricting Plan
Members present: Brent Buckner, Silas Houston, Shalia Lindsey, Sandra Miller, and Stephanie Watts.
The minutes were recorded by President Lindsey.
The discussion started at 6:25 pm.
Third Vice President Buckner presented the Branch's proposed redistricting plan . See attached packet of information which includes: Redistricting Principles, Map #1 , Population Summary Report, Minority Report-Total Population, Minority Report-Voting Age Population, and Map #2.
This plan was a collective effort of the Branch, Minneapolis Urban League , Council on Black Minnesotans, Rep. Neva Walker, Mathea Little Smith (Black State Political Action), and Vic Thorson.
The Branch's proposed plans offer greater compactness, increases the likelihood of minority election to city council, treats the Mississippi River as a natural boundary, maintains neighborhoods, and does not take into account incumbency nor residence of current council members . The proposed plan creates six (6) "minority opportunity districts." Therefore, six minority candidates could potentially become elected to office .
Third Vice President Buckner also presented maps proposed by the following parties: DFL, Republican, and Green/Independent. None of the aforementioned maps offered the exact number of "minority opportunity districts" nor seemed to reflect the best interest of communities of color.
As a result, the members present unanimously supported Map # 1 (proposed by Vice President Buckner and Political Action Chair, Gaskins) as our first option and Map #2 as our back up option.
The discussion ended at approximately 7:30 PM.
True Copy of Grievance submitted by Ron Edwards to national NAACP re: the Minneapolis NAACP (my bold emphasis added)
1 NAACP Board of Directors
2 Director of National Field Operations
3 Petition of Ronald A. Edwards
P.O. Box 11363-55411
4 Minneapolis, MN 55411
6 In Re: Ronald A. Edwards
9 Minneapolis NAACP, its Executive Committee, and the
Individual Members of its Executive Committee
13 Ronald A. Edwards (Petitioner) brings this petition requesting investigation,
14 remedial action and appropriate sanctions against the above-named respondents
15 for intentional violations of the NAACP's Constitution and Bylaws.
17 Petitioner has standing to bring this petition for Investigation. He is a member in
18 good standing of the NAACP, the Minneapolis branch NAACP, the Executive
19 Committee of the Minneapolis NAACP, the Minnesota - Dakota Conference of
20 the NAACP, and the national NAACP.
22 Petitioner is well known in the state of Minnesota and the metropolitan area of
23 Minneapolis/St. Paul as a long-time advocate for civil and human rights .
24 Petitioner has a reputation for defending and advocating for the rights of the
25 people of color and specifically for African Americans in these communities.
Summary of Petition - 1
2 In April 2002, Petitioner received documentation showing that the Executive
3 Committee of the Minneapolis NAACP presented a written proposal and
4 recommendations to the City of Minneapolis Redistricting Commission. Said
5 recommendations proposed changing the fourth and fifth ward boundary
6 lines in a manner that would effectively remove the incumbent African
7 American City Council member, Natalie Johnson-Lee out of her current
8 constituent fifth ward and place her into a new fourth ward comprised largely of
9 residents who had not participated in the recent election of Johnson-Lee. The
10 proposed new fourth ward is comprised of a significantly lower ratio of African
11 American voters than is the current fifth ward in which Johnson-Lee was recently
12 elected as Council member. Certain members of the NAACP Executive
13 Board in fact bragged about "cutting out"the incumbent African American
15 The respondents were under no legal requirement to present these
16 to the Redistricting Commission.
18 The probability is greater than not that should the NAACP-Urban League
19 redistricting recommendation be accepted by the City of Minneapolis, that the
20 only African American City Council member will be adversely affected and
21 irreparably harmed in her future attempts to retain her seat on the Minnesota City.
23 Respondent, in violation of NAACP Bylaws and Constitution, failed and refused
24 to give notice of a special or general membership meeting to Petitioner or to the
25 general membership for the purpose of considering their intent to recommend
Summary of Petition - 2
1 redistricting to the Minneapolis Redistricting Commission. The Constitution and
2 Bylaws of the NAACP branches, Article VI Meetings , state in relevant part,
3 "Section 4 Special Meetings: Special meetings may be called at any time and
4 place and on three days' written notice to all members by direction of the
5 President, or any three members of the Executive Committee... The notice must
state the purpose for which
6 the meeting is called. Section 4 Meetings of the Executive Committee states:
7 ...Special meetings of the Executive Committee may be called by the President,
8 Secretary or by two members of the Committee on three days' written notice."
10 Petitioner to date has not received notice of the special called meetings as
11 required by the above provisions of the NAACP Constitution and Bylaws.
13 The above cited actions of the Respondent NAACP are in opposition to the
14 desires and wishes of the Petitioner, the majority of the residents of the fifth
ward, and of the
15 general membership of the NAACP. The actions and recommendations of the
16 and Urban League concerning the redistricting recommendations have become
17 public and well known throughout the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area and beyond.
18 The actions and recommendations of the Minneapolis NAACP and its Executive
19 Committee, of which Petitioner is a member, holds that committee and its
20 members up to scorn in the African American and other communities. The actions
21 of the NAACP and its Executive Committee are viewed by Minneapolis citizens
22 as undermining the political representation of African Americans in Minneapolis. The
23 actions of the Respondents are, by association, seen as those of Petitioner and
24 therefore hold the Petitioner up to the ridicule and scorn of the community, and
25 make it appear Petitioner advocates against the interests of the African American
Summary of Petition - 3
1 community. Petitioner's reputation and character as a supporter and advocate
2 for the African American community have been and will continue to be
3 impugned and maligned by the illegal actions of the Respondent and its
4 Executive Committee.
5 To date Respondent has not presented a formal legal retraction of its
6 discriminatory redistricting recommendation to the Redistricting Committee.
8 Petitioner requests an immediate action by the NAACP to correct these
9 violate actions by the Minneapolis NAACP Executive Committee . Absent
10 the NAACP's immediate intervention, Petitioner requests the authority to proceed with an
11 external legal action to prevent harm to the interest of the African American
12 community and the sole African American Council member in Minneapolis.
Dated this 9th day of April, 2002
Ronald A. Edwards
Summary of Petition - 4
Excerpt from Constitution and By-Laws for Branches
Section 4 Special meetings may be called at any time
Special and place and on three days' written notice
Meetings to members by direction of the President, or any three members of the Executive Committee, or on failure of these to act, by any
ten members of the Branch. This notice must state the purpose for which the meeting is called.
If, after reading the above, I sound hardhitting on this, I say thank you. I'm trying to be. Not because I want to but because I don't see any other choice. There is no greater sign of how well certain aspects of Black-White relationships have become integrated than when the so-called Black leadership has gotten into the corrupt bed of their White Mastuhs, in this case, the DFL. The DFL agenda is probably 90% against Black people, especially those Blacks in poor communities like North Minneapolis. The anger of Humphrey and Mondale over losing the Presidential races of 1968 and 1984, falsely blaming the riots of Blacks, still smolders in the DFL in Minnesota. My response to the DFL is: "grow up." Many of those riots were due to Democrat/DFL policies. And even though it is true that the Democratic Party in Minnesota has abandoned the inner city Blacks, they need to do a historic reality check regarding how much they have abandoned the principles of freedom and liberty for Blacks for two centuries.
Despite the Democratic Jim Crow laws in the South, it was Blacks who gave the Democrats their moral mantle as a result of the Civil Rights Movement beginning in the 1950s and Anti-War Movement beginning in the 60s (Northern Democrats; Southern Democrats and too many Republicans opposed both movements). In response, Blacks have received nothing but disdain, disrespect, and mistreatment as if they were all "boys" or "farm hands." We gave the Democrats the moral mantle to make up for their shameless treatment of us during the slave period, during the Reconstruction period, during the Jim Crow period, and since then. Their thanks have been to treat us as suckers and to attempt to fool us into thinking they support us when in truth they want us back as lackeys, as Jim Crow dummies, the way Democrats, especially Southern Democrats, have always treated us.
From John F. Kennedy to Hubert H. Humphrey to George McGovern to Jimmy Carter to Walter Mondale to Bill Clinton to Al Gore, they have acted as plantation Mastuhs, getting to office on the backs of Black voters while leaving them in their political shanties, using house Negroes in government jobs (national, state, local) and on government commissions and boards, to keep us imprisoned in the ghetto with a focus on anything but that which would give us wealth and power.
Even the Congressional Black Caucus has always been a Democratic Party Black Caucus. So when asked what kind of Democrat I am, I reply: a "Nellie Stone Johnson Democrat" (Interlude 3).
In the Old Testament story of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, it is said that God didn't want people with a slave mentality to enter the Promised Land, for they would not handle it well. So he had them wander until new generations without the slave mentality took their place. Blacks after the Civil War wanted to be free. They started businesses, were elected to office. Then came the end of Reconstruction and the beginning of the Jim Crow laws when the Democrats gave the Presidency to the Republicans in 1876 in exchange for having the Federal troops removed and Reconstruction ended. The NAACP and the Urban League were founded in order to battle Jim Crow. Since then, the Urban League and NAACP have returned to a slave mentality of servitude to the Mastuhs. Maybe it will take Blacks joining another political party, like the Green Party to shed their slave, "yassah DFL boss" mentality. But until that is done, we will continue to wander in the wilderness.
The evidence for this is plentiful. I'm willing to bet that much of it is in the missing files Jackie Cherryhomes took from her office, when she was defeated in November 2001. Whether she shredded them or just spirited them away for the time when she hopes to triumphantly return from her exile in Elba, the fact remains: the evidence is gone. Rather than be on Elba, Cherryhomes should probably be in jail. Neither the local NAACP nor the Urban League protested her actions, although the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder did. Nor did these groups protest the redistricting. Indeed, they helped perpetrate that fraud on the Black community (Chapters 13 and 14).
So what is the NAACP? They say: "The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People." But more and more they have become The National Association for the Advancement of Corrupt People. If that doesn't suit your fancy, try The National Association for the Advancement of Cowed People. Finally, a very descriptive name: The National Association for the Advancement of Corrupt Plantations, the latter referring to the DFL.
These local branch Urban League and NAACP leaders have lost their sense of village and community and retained only the sense of being chiefs and rulers. And so slavery enters in again, a slavery of the mind and soul, as those who should be serving the community have become enslaved to the appetite for more power and wealth, regardless of how that hurts the community. If they want to pursue power and wealth, then they need to do so outside the NAACP and outside the Urban League. These are supposed to be organizations for the people, not for the self-aggrandizement of their leaders. It helps them but not our people in the inner city.
Many of the NAACP and Urban League leaders as well as others deeply involved with the City Council are ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is what makes this such a scandal, that some of those representing the virtues of love and service and care and help for the poor, have become turncoats who seek instead to be treated as demi-gods served by the people, not serving the people.
I was in a group of over 40 people who met with Mayor-elect R.T. Rybak after his election in November 2001. All that transpired was an example of corrupt leadership: The group talked of themselves, not of the people they serve. They talked about what they could get rather than ask tough questions of how to provide despite the cuts. They talked about the state's billion-dollar shortfall as well as the shortfall for Minneapolis rather than talk about Black employment preservation or the preservation of others. 41% of those jettisoned in the cuts, those laid off, were African-American.
As I am the spokesman for the Black Police organization, I asked the new mayor, R.T. Rybak, why, in the current class of police officers, there were no African-Americans. He expressed hurt and said my remarks were "mean spirited regarding the cuts. And yet, only the African-Americans were jettisoned, including the department of Labor Relations, with two officers, headed by a Black.
How do these Black organizations of Minneapolis react? In silence. Silence regarding these cuts and silence regarding these cuts and elimination of jobs of African-Americans, as they do the bidding of their DFL Mastuhs.
During the 1960s, when I was at Syracuse University studying community organizing, we often wondered how a country of such ideals could treat Blacks the way it did. I had a hard time then, and I have a hard time now, understanding both the intellectual confusion and corruption (slavery being seen as good because it "protected" and "cared" for Blacks, as if liberty and freedom were only for White), and the moral confusion and corruption (holding states' higher than human rights, forcibly separating families and legally keeping whole generations of Blacks uneducated and poor), all expressed in the kind of 1984 language of George Orwell, that this was a "good" for all involved. No matter how you define it, those were all acts of evil. We find Black organizations slipping into that as well.
There will be readers who will wince at my use of the term evil. But what else can we call it? One may have a different opinion of how to go about doing something, but the results I have reported cannot be debated. They just are. So how do we deal with evil that most people seem to want to deny exists? I agree that evil is a mystery. But what else would you call the events in my Interludes? If slavery, lynching, burning entire towns down, murdering women and children, and stealing a people's land and wealth are not evil, then there are no absolutes and nothing is wrong, so the only goal is to obtain power and used it however one wants against others.
The problem comes when people attempt to establish as absolute that which is not. For instance, the Constitution was used to suggest slavery was an absolute, followed by the Missouri Compromise stating the same absolute (thus for every free state admitted to the Union a slave state had to be admitted too, in order to maintain balance). The Democrats traded the Presidency in 1876, in exchange for the Republican promise to remove Federal troops from the South, essentially ending Reconstruction and allowing Democrats to enact Jim Crow laws that created a de facto American Apartheid, for which the foundational idea was continued by the Democrats in their Kerner Commission Report in 1968, which concluded that Blacks couldn't make it by themselves and needed to be cared for by the State. The consequence of this idea is to educate us a little, give us poor housing, and do little to enable us to engage in personal wealth building.
With the exchange in 1876, both the Democratic and Republican parties essentially rejected Lincoln's notion of "4 score and 7 years ago...all...created equal... of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth ." The 4 score and 7 years ago referred not to the Constitution, which allowed slavery, but to the Declaration of Independence, which declared that all were created equal.
Whether or not Reconstruction was on its way out anyway, the fact remains that Jim Crow laws were then instituted immediately, the Ku Klux Klan was formed to implement them, and to terrorize Blacks so they would not enter the social, political, and economic mainstream. The Black progress achieved by that time was stripped from Blacks.
And, lest we forget, it was then Democratic Governor, Fritz Hollings (now Senator), who raised the Confederate Flag over the capital dome of South Carolina. It was the Democratic President Jimmy Carter who blocked making Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday, which didn't come to be until a Republican President, Ronald Reagan, signed it into law what Carter refused to sign.
This is not to beat up unnecessarily on Democrats. Republicans don't fight for us either, as they believe in self-reliance, not reliance on government. They advocate boot strapping and refuse to recognize their role is making sure Blacks have few boots and thus few straps. I agree that we need to be self-reliant. But when the chessboard is set up so that Blacks are pawns and Whites get to be King and Queen served by Rooks and Bishops and Knights, pawns don't have a chance.
Put another way, in Walter Karp's apt phrase and book title, Democrats and Republicans are Indispensable Enemies who have combined to short-change Blacks. Now I know there are Democrats and DFLers who will be angry about what I'm writing, some because they don't believe it and others because they see no reason to upset a perfectly good electoral apple cart that works in their favor. You can read the history of how both parties, and especially Democrats, have badly treated Blacks in Congress as well as Blacks in general, in Just Permanent Interests: Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1992 by William L. Clay (Amistad Publishers, New York, 1993).
In the 19 th -century's Gilded Age, it is said that the political parties were in a quest for spoils, not principles. That is what I see again today: a quest for spoils, not principles. My plea is that we get back to principles.
Please note that there are no Republicans on the Minneapolis City Council. Just as in 1876, it appears that the DFL and the Republicans have cut a deal to divide the area, giving Minneapolis to the DFL and the Minneapolis suburbs to the Republicans. Each party is so confident in their ability to run their worlds that they have no qualms about doing the illegal, unjust, and unfair, knowing they can get away with it. The Black organizations in town understand this. But instead of fighting it, they have sold out to the DFL so that their leaders can get their small piece of the pie, even if it means selling out those they claim to represent. They have become sell-outs to the DFL in order to make deals for themselves and their friends. And I understand why they sell out. They have bought into the idea that Blacks are victims and can't make it without government and outside help. The media support this notion as does the National Democratic Party and the Minnesota/Minneapolis DFL bosses. My chapters on education (7), housing (8), and jobs (9), demonstrate this.
The Mastuhs don't want people to know that Blacks were more economically engaged in Minneapolis business before 1950 than since 1950.
When Julian Bond, Chairman of the national NAACP, says that the NAACP is "immensely bureaucratic," he is explaining why he can't do what he wants to: shift the NAACP focus from providing social services to pushing for social justice. He is exposing the power of the bureaucracy (which is the same for all bureaucracies, Black or White, corporate or government, religious or non-religious non-profit) and his lack of personal persuasiveness to get them to change course, just as with any large organization. He can push for social justice but he can't will it. Instead of saying the NAACP is going to do so, he expresses it as a hope. This is another example of how individual leadership is often co-opted by bureaucracy, again: whether national or local, whether Black or White, whether private sector or public sector. However, the market quickly punishes corporations for that, whereas government agencies, schools, and non-profit organizations just keep on doing it, asking for more and more money to do less and less.
Two things stand in the way of the NAACP and the Urban League doing what they should be doing. First, their unwillingness to stop being arms of the Democratic Party, and giving up their dependence on the great sums of money that come from government programs for Blacks. They are not about to bite the hands that feed them. Secondly, their unwillingness to connect with the poor directly. They are comprised, as are so many do-good agencies, Black and White, of primarily middle class government bureaucrats. Look at all of the NAACP and Urban League leaders, national and local, and look how many are affiliated with the Democratic party, with governments and agencies, are or were office holders, are or were working for the government at some level, whether Federal, state, local, and look at how many work in their city's agencies or community's non-profit organizations. This is why, even though they have agency jobs, they also have time for these other organizations: their Urban League and the NAACP roles are part of their agency jobs.
Now ask this key question: when, in the last 10 years, have you heardd of these dual-track individuals doing anything for poor communities? As you can see from Chapters 7-13, they have hurt, not helped, the poor of the communities of Minneapolis.
How else can you explain why Black organizations like the NAACP and the Urban League do nothing when the Whites take away their housing, the education of their children, their jobs, opportunities for economic development? Why do they respond like lambs to the lies in the media and not feel outrage and stand up and say it's wrong? Why do they seem to just say: "well, if the bosses want it, then it is OK," even when time and again the bosses' decisions work against the poor of the inner city? Why? Because they are being paid to, one way or another.
These local Black leaders have thus gone along with the White interpretation of the Civil Rights laws in order to protect their organizations, not their people. They impede Black progress and racial healing in order to keep their paid representative positions. We must get beyond work that promotes adversarial approaches trying to make Whites feel guilty and helpless so Blacks can feel self-righteous. In the meantime, nothing changes in terms of education, housing, jobs, participation in politics and the economic main-stream for those left behind. More importantly, nothing happens to help build Black political power and Black personal wealth.
In his piece "Still Stuck On the (Now Integrated) Plantation," Kwame JC McDonald, in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder (April 4-10, 2002), writes how we:
sometimes find ourselves endorsing programs, projects and/or people that we know are less than perfect, at best.
It gets worse. He goes on to write that:
We often sanction activities, statements and actions that are questionable. In fact, we often find ourselves doing things that we later either question, reject, or downright deny.
The Civil Rights Movement is full of those kinds of inconsistencies, misappropriation of energy and time. There are, for instance, many who question the advisability of continuing to fight for integration, desegregation and assimilation.
He concludes his column by saying that we spend so much money that we have become slaves to debt, making us
more enslaved now than at any previous period in the history of the United States. We are stuck on the plantation.
What I find interesting here is that he correctly brings it back to the individual rather than leaving it with the institutions. We need to stop looking to institutions to take care of us and instead find those who will help us take care of ourselves. We need to stop beating up on ourselves and start beating up on the institutions that claim to represent us and that instead enrich their leaders who then turn around and blame us. I submit this is so because we have just as many Black elitists as the White folks do.
Indeed, Black friends of mine who mingle with the Black elite of this town have been asked why they associate with Ron Edwards, as he is not really one of them. He is a porter's son. He is poor. He doesn't drive a new car. So instead of saying: "Hey man, that's cool," they condemn me. Instead of saying that Ron Edward is one of the guys who never took his eye off the prize and has always worked for equal access and equal opportunity and never for an organization, they condemn me for not having made money off any of these organizations as some of them have. Put another way, they ask this as plantation house Negroes looking down on the poor Black boy. And then they wonder why integration, desegregation, and assimilation haven't worked as well as we would have liked. They have gone along with the DFL and its policies to prevent integration, desegregation, and assimilation, the very things they should have been fighting for.
A clear sign of how the question: "who will lead" is confusing things is the disturbing conflict between the traditional organizations and their clergy, both Christian and Islam. So who will lead? Allah or Jesus? It is precisely the failure of Christian clergy and churches and traditional organizations like the NAACP and the Urban League that have led to the rise and success of our nation's inside Black nation, the Nation of Islam. Here we have a nation, the U.S., that has locked out Black Americans. So some have created their own nation within our nation, and called it just that, as in the case of the Nation of Islam, essentially rejecting everything on which the United States is based.
The rhetoric of the Nation of Islam, its fierce racism, its fierce hatred, its totalitarian structure have not helped (which is why it could not stand an independent Malcolm X and thus assassinated him). But their Us vs. Them attitudes, their hierarchy of leaders dictating to their followers, they learned in this country, as the Nation of Islam leaders became plantation bosses of their Black nation. And although the NAACP and the Urban League have a more benign type of leadership structure, they have the same plantation mentality, wanting all Blacks to do as they say. I find that these three organizations, today, do far more harm to our struggle than all the Whites put together. All the Whites have to do is sit back while we tear each other apart and keep each other down.
The racist Kerner Commission of 1968 said we couldn't take care of ourselves so the government would have to do it for us. The government then co-opted our leadership by buying them off with programs paid with mostly Federal funds. Thus, a number of the Black middle class have gained control of massive budgets dedicated to social welfare policy, housing, education, and government jobs. The Black elite misrepresent non-elite Blacks by using the co-opting money from Whites to keep the non-elite Blacks of the inner city down. This too has been the Minneapolis story.
And where is the proof of all of the corruption in development dollars handed out by the city? My guess is that much of it is in the missing files Jackie Cherryhomes took from her office. What has preoccupied too many of our leaders: opportunities for self-enrichment. My claim is that the leadership of the NAACP and the Urban League as well as other Black organizations needs to concentrate on confronting teachers' unions for not teaching minorities and confront civil rights leaders for caving in to the teachers' unions, and confront everyone else, including legislators, mayors, and City Council Members, who have and still have a hand in the failure to educate minority kids, steal their housing and property, not employ Blacks or use Black organizations and contractors, what is their value?
We know the only way out of poverty is education and learning. The way to develop prosperity is to learn both skills and discipline to get and hold jobs that pay. Yet too many Black leaders go along with the poor results as long as they get theirs. These Blacks are worse that the White Mastuhs, because it is our own Black kids whom they are sacrificing, who aren't learning in school, and who aren't learning skills and discipline for the rigors of life. Put simply, until Black leaders stop using race-conscious diversity politics to enrich themselves, they will continue to sabotage our dream by colluding with federal, state and local governments that look the other way because they have created an intellectual plantation on which the politically correct Mastuhs are in charge, on which the only agendas accepted are those of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and environment rather than the agenda of equal access and equal opportunity in education, housing, jobs, and political and economic participation. As long as Blacks can be hustled to chase those ghosts, which takes their eye off the prize, the real focus which leads to the prize is ignored, as the prize is left unfocussed. Hence, we have participated in disenfranchising ourselves and have done so without shame. Places where this comes together like in no other are in education and housing and jobs (Chapters 7 - 9).
And the latest is Hennepin County's African-American Men's Project. A most incredible line, showing the County really wants servitude from Blacks, not initiative, is in the application list of those who are to serve on its African American Men Advisory Commission. Applicants:
must be committed to the implementation of the recommendations in the African American Men Project report.
In other words, the project, funded by Hennepin County, established an advisory commission to advise the county and the City of Minneapolis on something it had already pre-conceived, pre-established, and pre-determined. Again, those who are eligible to serve must "first be committed to the implementation of the recommendations in the African American Men project report." In others words, they must do as the White Mastuhs say.
Where do the NAACP and the Urban League stand today?
At its annual convention in July 2002 in Houston, Texas, the NAACP President, Kweisi Mfume, a former Congressman, stressed patriotism and solidarity between the races, as he denounced "black bigotry" and called for members to stand against injustice from the "far, far left" as well as the "far, far right."
This was in contrast to what Jesse Jackson and NAACP Chairman Julian Bond had said, as they gave more fiery convention remarks. As Mfume said: "The mad men of today's world, much like the racists that dot our 93-year NAACP history, use terrorism to intimidate and lies to deceive." And although I don't agree with everything Mfume says, I do agree with his denouncing "sexism, racism, anti-Semitism" and "immigrant-bashing and union-bashing and gay-bashing and city-bashing." He said: "We must speak out not just against injustice to ourselves but against injustice to everyone." I agree.
I just wish he had included education, housing, jobs, and political and economic participation. In the 1950s and 1960s, White segregationist governors stood at Southern schoolhouse doors blocking entrance to Black students. Now the NAACP stands at the doors of the worst schools in the country, urban schools filled with Black youngsters, blocking them from leaving, unwilling to let them out, as they serve their Democratic Mastuhs who continue their same poor education policies for Black inner cities, just as they did throughout the Jim Crow South.
What has been called the "peculiar institution" of slavery was not always peculiar. Indeed, it was once universal. It is as old as humankind. It was not until the 19 th century that slavery was abolished in most of the world, beginning with Britain in 1806. The U.S. did not outlaw it until it passed the 13 th Amendment to the Constitution in 1865 (following Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of 1863). Different countries claim credit for being first, as Denmark does. The key fact is not who was first but the truth that it wasn't outlawed anywhere in the world, including in Africa, until the 19 th century.
Records going back 5,000 years, before Biblical times, show slavery as a recognized institution. Besides those enslaved as a result of losing a battle or invasion, there were those reduced to slavery as punishment for certain offenses. Most were of the same race and culture. Men were allowed to sell their children or their entire family to pay off debts (for various time frames). Slaves were branded like any other chattel. Thus, the forces of slavery and oppression have been unrelenting for thousands of years. Archeological evidence shows how widespread slavery was.
Though not officially slaves, women of tribes were often treated as slaves as they were considered property owned by their father, husband, or brother. Slavery has been seen as natural for thousands of years. Most of us would be absolutely opposed to slavery if we had to be a slave, and others of us might not hesitate to support it if given the opportunity to own some. If we all go far enough back in our family histories, we will find slaves or serfs or peasants or dirt farmers. For Blacks, we don't have to go back very far at all. Indeed, most people of my generation know some grandparent or great-grandparent who either was a slave or knew slaves.
Slavery existed in Africa before the Americas were discovered. One tribe would enslave another tribe. This was before outsiders came and discovered what they called the Dark Continent. Then came the exporting of African slaves, first to Arabs, then to Europe, and then to the Americas. But the U.S. didn't start the traffic in African slaves to the Americas. That "honor" goes to Portugal. Indeed, Portugal and Spain began the African slave trade in the 15 th century, with Arab and Black tribes as partners, long before the Pilgrims landed, joined by England in the 16 th century. It was not until the early 17 th century that North America got involved, a century that also saw France, Sweden, and Denmark involved in the slave business. And the carving up of Africa into colonial Africa was done without any participation by the United States. Africa was carved up by the colonial empires of Europe at the all-European gathering at the Berlin Conference of 1884-85. Many Black Americans don't realize that most slaves from Africa went to South America, Central America, Mexico, and the islands of the Caribbean, not to North America. Whether in Europe or Asia or South and Central America, most people in most places were in some kind of bondage or servitude long before America was founded. And in the beginning of slavery in America, there were also a few Black slaveholders.
The first recorded word for freedom was found in 2350 B.C. Sumer, the result of a struggle between the ruler with his bureaucracy and the people, and also the struggle between the temple and the palace (what might be called church and state). We continue that struggle today. Don't forget that ancient Greece's 200-year experiment with democracy was conducted, when in fact 80% of the population were slaves.
Many of us, Black and White, have slaves in our family background. Not all of you think that way. You need to think again. Except for 20 th -century immigrants from Africa, if you are Black and in America, it is quite likely that your ancestors were brought here in slave ships. If you are White, your ancestors were more than likely either serfs or bond servants, or runaway outcasts from persecution, whether religious or political, where they were treated as slaves and from which they fled to this country to be free. Sadly, some people become what they hate, and thus some went from hating being slaves to becoming slave Masters.
It is important to remember for both Blacks and Whites what I noted above: that for most Blacks over 50 years of age, we remember grandfathers or great-grandfathers who knew relatives who were slaves. Many Whites don't want to admit the historical reality that although Negroes in America were first slaves simply because they were sold as slaves, the notion changed, especially as the abolitionist movement grew to a more universal rationale that justified holding on to Blacks as slaves: they were slaves because they were Black. This was based on everything from purposefully misinterpreting the Bible to declare that the Mark of Cain given by God was being Black-skinned, or using the story of Noah to say that because the one son looked on his father Noah's naked body he was sent to Africa and told by God that he and his sons would forever serve his brothers. The slave states developed these and other theological arguments justifying slavery as being ordained by God. Others said that Blacks should be slaves because they were like monkeys, and thus not fully human.
Too many people still believe Blacks should be slaves or at least servants. That was the basis of Apartheid in South Africa, Jim Crow laws in the United States after Reconstruction to the 1960s, and the plantation attitude in Minneapolis today, and now the 21 st century actions discussed in this book, all part of the unspoken plan reflecting the desire to keep Blacks in their place. We know the excuses before the 21 th century. What is Minneapolis' excuse now?
See also: Solution Paper #29: 10 Suggestions/themes for the NAACP Board to consider for its next annual covention if it is to again obtain relevance and significance and rebound from having had to close all regional offices and lay off 40% of the national HQ staff, as happened in June 07
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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