Tag Archives: Civil Rights Movement

President Lyndon Baines Johnson Closes the Coffin on White Participation in the Civil Rights Movement

Whites’ increasing resistance to racial equality perplexed African-American moderates who looked on in horror as their former allies, who now termed themselves neo-liberals, began propagating political principles that absolved them from any responsibility for racial inequality.

Whites couched their increasingly public attacks against racial progressivism within well-worn individualistic Horatio Alger uplift stories.  Neo-liberals shifting principles dramatically altered the political landscape in regards to racial matters. Whites reasoned that their retreat from the battle for racial equality was beneficial for African-Americans as it provided them an invaluable opportunity to independently address intra-racial social vices, political inefficiencies, and economic deficiencies.

After the Watts rebellion, whites considered benign neglect their lone opportunity to aid African-Americans. From their perspective, Blacks only hope of securing respect in America was to follow the same path to politico-economic empowerment that European and Asian immigrants traveled; meaning the mobilization of and strategic utilization of politico-economic caches. Although calls for African-Americans ‘to lift themselves up by their bootstraps’ were a familiar refrain, it remained neither fair nor achievable in the mid-sixties considering their dearth of politico-economic caches. Unfortunately for African-Americans, this reality did not prevent neo-liberals from shifting the blame for persisting racial inequities to their strong shoulders. The insinuation was obvious; whites were no longer willing to aid the American Negro. Neo-liberals publicly attacked Blacks for requesting group protection by admonishing that socially responsible individualism was the only path to racial equality, not offensive rallies, marches, and speeches.

From its genesis, neo-liberalism propagated flawed theories regarding Black suffering to a gullible white populace. For example, Neo-liberals disputed their former Black allies’ assertion that institutional racism was the real catalyst to persisting racial inequities. President Lyndon Baines Johnson articulated such thinking during a commencement address at Howard University on June 4, 1965.  Johnson’s speech signals progressive whites’ abandonment of liberalism for a more conservative politic. At the addresses opening, Johnson enveloped himself in traditional liberal jargon by acknowledging the pernicious effects of racial discrimination and calling for continued diligence in the battle to subdue it. The President pointed out,

[Y]ou do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, “You are free to compete with all the others,” and still justly believe that you have been completely fair. Thus, it is not enough just to open the gates of opportunity. All our citizens must have the ability to walk through those gates. 

However, the most significant aspect of President Johnson’s presentation occurred after these initial thoughts when he endorsed a new path to racial equality; Lyndon Baines Johnson then proceeded to blame Blacks for persisting racial inequities.

Equal opportunity is essential, but not enough. Ability is stretched or stunted by the family you live with, and the neighborhoods you live in, by the school you go to and the poverty or the richness of your surroundings. It is the product of a hundred unseen forces playing upon the infant, the child, and the man. Overt job discrimination is only one of the important hurdles which must be overcome before color can disappear as a determining factor in the lives and fortunes of men . . . The extent to which an individual is able to develop his aptitudes will largely depend upon the circumstances present in the family within which he grows up and the opportunities which he encounters at school and in the larger community.

African-Americans should have considered Johnson’s comments public warning that they were solely responsible for lifting themselves up by their bootstraps because neo-liberals, a population that included former allies, had abandoned the struggle for racial equality with a clear conscience, nonetheless.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

Excerpt from Creating Revolution as they Advance: A Narrative History of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense

Jackie Robinson’s Response to Malcolm X

December 14, 1963
Dear Malcolm:

Frankly, your letter to me in the New York Amsterdam News is one of the things I shall cherish. Coming from you, an attack is a tribute. I am also honored to have been placed in the distinguished company of Dr. Ralph Bunche, whom you have also attacked.

I am proud of my associations with the men whom you choose to call my “white bosses”—Mr. Branch Rickey, my boss at Chock Full O’ Nuts, Mr. William Black, and Governor Nelson Rockefeller. I am also proud that so many others whom you would undoubtedly label as “white bosses,” marched with us to Washington and have been and are now working with our leaders to help achieve equality here in America.

I will not dignify your attempted slur against my appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee some years back. All I can say is that if I were called upon to defend my country today, I would gladly do so. Nor do I hide behind any coat­tails as you do when caught in one of your numerous outlandish statements. Your usual “out” is to duck responsibility by stating: “The Honorable Elijah Muhammad says . . .”

Personally, I reject your racist views. I reject your dream of a separate state. I believe that many Americans, black and white, are committed to fighting for those freedoms for which Medgar Evers, William Moore, the Birmingham children and President John F. Kennedy died.

Those of us who are so committed have no intention of supporting the idea of a separate black state where the Honorable Muhammad can be the ruler and you his immediate successor—and all because you, Malcolm, hate white people. Too many of our young people have gone to jail and too many millions of dollars have been invested in our fight for equality for us to pay serious heed to your advice. Whether you like this country or not is of little concern to me. America is not perfect, by a long shot, but I happen to like it here and will do all I can to help make it the kind of place where my children and theirs can live in dignity.
As for Governor Rockefeller, I sincerely hope that what­ever contribution I can make to his campaign for nomination and election will be meaningful. I don’t know where you went to school, Malcolm. If you attended virtually any Negro college, I venture to say that a Rockefeller helped make your education possible. Neither do I apologize for my support of Mr. Nixon.

If conditions were the same today as they were in 1960, I would still support him. I do not do things to please “white bosses” or “black agitators” unless they are the things which please me. I respect Governor Rockefeller’s leadership of the present and what his family has meant to us in the past. I fully intend to do all I can to aid him.

The fact that I am supporting him does not mean you should. Rest assured, I am not doing so in the hope that you will come aboard.

You say I have never shown my appreciation to the Negro masses. I assume that is why NAACP branches all over the country constantly invite me to address them. I guess this is the reason the NAACP gave me its highest award, the Spingarn Medal, and why Dr. Martin King has consistently invited me to participate in the Southern Freedom Fight and invited me to co­chair with him the drive to raise funds to rebuild the burned churches in Georgia. By the way, Malcolm, I don’t remember our receiving your contribution.

Negroes are not fooled by your vicious theories that they are dying for freedom to please the white man. Negroes are fighting for freedom and rejecting your racism because we feel our stake in America is worth fighting for. Whom do you think you are kidding, Malcolm, when you say that Negro leaders ought to be “thankful” that you were not personally present in Birmingham or Mississippi after racial atrocities had been committed there? The inference seems to be that you would have played some dramatic, avenging role. I don’t think you would have.

I think you would have done exactly what you did after your own Muslim brothers ­were shot and killed in Los Angeles. You left it to the law to take its course.

You mouth a big and bitter battle, Malcolm, but it is noticeable that your militancy is mainly expressed in Harlem where it is safe.

I have always contended for your right—as for that of every American—to say and think and believe what you choose. I just happen to believe you are supporting and advocating policies which could not possibly interest the masses. Thank God for our Dr. Bunche, our Roy Wilkins, our Dr. King, and Mr. Randolph. I am also grateful for those people you consider “white bosses.”
I am glad that I have been able to come through for the people at whom you sneer. I am glad that Negroes spent so many millions for paid admissions to baseball. I am glad that we have sold an awful lot of Chock Full O’ Nuts Coffee. I am hopeful that we will be able to get a great many votes for Governor Rockefeller.

I shall always be happy to associate myself with decent Americans of either race who believe in justice for all. I hate to think of where we would be if we followed your leadership. Strictly in my personal opinion, it is a sick leadership which should rightfully be rejected by the vast majority of Americans.

 Jackie Robinson

Calling Black Lives Matter and All Black Protest Groups to A More Principled Position

Black Power to Black People, 
White Power to White People, 
Brown Power to Brown People, 
Yellow Power to Yellow People, 
Red Power to Red People. 
All Power to the People!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fred Hampton

There are not many things that make me cringe in pain; however the appearance of pervasive ignorance never fails to take me to that rare threshold. Today I cringed in a most unusual manner while bpp6watching footage of a ‘Black Lives Matter’ activist outside of the Democratic National Convention give directives to an assembly of activists. The cringe worthy portion of this activity is found in her request, or should I say demand, that whites retreat to the rear of the march because the pending march was to be led by Black protesters and Black protesters alone.

Although I instantly recognized what this young and apparently inexperienced activist was attempting to achieve by having a Black led March against a racial issue, I also recognized her voluminous ignorance regarding the multi-racial nature of prior activism during both the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power Era. It has always amazed me how ignorance or a superficial understanding of prior struggles leads contemporary activists to re-write the tactics and strategies of prior protest movements.

The demand that whites assemble in the rear harkened my mind back to the Women’s Suffragist movement when white women, attempting to cater to prejudiced southern delegates, issued a similar ‘request’ to Black Women suffragists. It appears that some, certainly not all, members of today’s Black activist scene have chosen to ignore Audre Lorde’s admonishment that,

For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. Racism…is a real condition of all our lives in this place and time. I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside (his and) herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives here. See whose face it wears.

One thing is for certain, today’s Black activist must find a way to simultaneously avoid replicating the hatred emanating from other baldwingroups with divergent ideas for it will ultimately lead to them becoming that very entity that they so strongly loathe. The cost of doing such is one that none of us can afford to pay. Failure to recognize this danger means that we unfortunately become the very figures that noted social critic James Baldwin was considering when he stated, “People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead.

Contemporary Black activists must always make certain that they do not become that which they fight so diligently fight against, because if they do, there is no doubt that their opponent has won by turning them into a mirror image of the hate, vengefulness, and irrationality that they possess. I have no doubt that today’s Black activists are able to find a medium between avoiding such an unfortunate position while also moving the Black agenda forward.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016

Losing My Religion: A refusal to play “The Game of Thrones”

Praying not to sound similar to Saul, Paul before his Damascus road transition, I wish to simply open the minds of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. To say I spent much of my youth in church wouldAngel 1 simply be an understatement.  During my adolescent years there rarely came a week that I didn’t spend at minimum three days in  church. Even though in my family this was a mandate I never felt as if there were something negative about this experience. As I grew older and became more aware however, something began to trouble my spirit. I believe in many cases, although with the best intentions at heart, we as Christians focus too much on pointing at people sins, rather than pointing people to the savior. I believe that if the goal is to truly live like Christ, such judgmental attitudes cause us to miss that mark.

Whether one believes in his divinity or not, the words and message of Christ can be greatly appreciated.  Christ gave a message of love and acceptance, not one of exclusion. Jesus urged his followers to love their neighbors, not condemn them. I often say that man has always found ways to taint what God intended for good.  Being a student of history I cannot ignore the fact that the religion I was raised into was the very same religion used to justify the enslavement of my ancestors.  Therefore, it truly saddens me to see my beloved religion being used once again to persecute people.  This time, in many cases this done by my very own people. I once read an incredible quote that stated “a true follower of Christ should smell like the poor”. Meaning, that if we are truly using Christ as our blueprint, the majority of our work should be outside of the walls of the church. Our mission should be to include rather the exclude.  In fact, during his time on earth Jesus himself was rarely documented being present in a place of worship. Jesus always seemed to make himself first available and then approachable to those that needed him the most.  Therefore in my opinion, as followers of Christ we should be less concerned with observing religious rules and procedures and focus on uplifting those around us. I’ve seen in many cases people who wish to spread the word of Jesus only condemn the actions of “sinners” rather that show the love and mercy Jesus regularly displayed.  I believe it is of utmost importance to try and relate to people, especially considering the fact that all of us have our issues that we battle with. I’ll refer to the famed scripture Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”.

Furthermore, I believe that the modern era of the black church has shifted from the days of old. The black church was once the epicenter of black progressive movement. Not only the Civil Rights Movement, but it can be said that the church also has substantial impact on the emancipation of African-Americans in this country.  I fear that today the focus has shifted more toward a “Game of Thrones” than actually uplifting of our people.  As my “Yoda” of black intellectual thought, Dr. James Jones, once stated, I have burning desire to see the black church more active in the fight against the current afflictions that face modern day African-Americans. Not being omnipresent I cannot say that there has been zero input from the church on the “The New Jim Crow” or the seemingly epidemic wave of police brutality in our community. However, I believe we can all agree that whatever has been done would pale in comparison to the work of Dr. King and other religious leader during the Civil Rights movement. Why is this? I believe it is due to the focus of the “Game of Thrones”. Meaning there seems to be more of a focus on gaining wealth and power than the sheep themselves.

I believe if we were to focus one loving one another as Christ did we could form a “more perfect union” in the black community. That is to say, when “Big Momma” makes every wake up to go church on angel 4Sunday morning what people get is a more welcoming experience. Simply put if people felt less judged when they arrive in the house of God, there would be more willing to return. During my time spent here in Houston it hard to drive on a street without seeing a generally speaking “large” African-American place of worship. Imagine if these places were used to fight against the poverty and abuse regularly seen in our community. The church is indeed a great cornerstone in all communities. Therefore this power must be used for more than collecting tithes. It is my opinion that we should use this wide spread engagement to inform and empower our community. Giving all people a place of love and acceptance, as Christ indeed would have wanted. I truly believe that the African-American church at this moment in history is sleeping giant. I pray this giant awakes and joins the fight for our freedom because we truly need what might be our greatest weapon for all forms of emancipation.

Patron Payton

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016

Two Societies (1965 – 68)

One of the most daunting aspects of the Civil Rights Movement for many African-Americans is that it was largely concentrated in the South and did not address the issues that impacted the lives of Black Americans residing in this nation’s urban centers. The following video displays the extreme difficulties that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and his staff had with dealing with non-Southern regions in their pursuit of improving Black life. Put simply, King, and his aides, failed in a contentious battle against Chicago’s venerable Mayor Richard Daley.