Tag Archives: Jesse Jackson

What John Conyers Fall From Grace Reveals About Charismatic Centralized Leadership to Black America

When one considers the manner that U.S. Representative John Conyers Jr. (D-Detroit) political career that extends beyond fifty-years ended, feelings of sadness and disappointment naturally arise within Black America. The alluded to feelings are in many ways applause for the phenomenal work that Conyers performed during his time as a U.S. Congressman in what could be appropriately termed a lily-white Congress. If nothing else, Conyers must be applauded for his willingness to “speak truth to power” in one of the least racially representative locations known to humanity.

Despite what can only be termed a risqué cloud of sexually based accusations surrounding Conyers’ resignation, anyone familiar with his congressional work is aware that it was Representative Conyers that championed civil rights and social justice like none other. When other members of the Congressional Black Caucus displayed a lack of courage in regards to contentious racial matters, it was Conyers that Black America could count on to resist political attacks from white opponents regarding matters such as unfair mandatory sentencing guidelines that threatened to put black men, women, and children behind bars for lengthy prison sentences. For many, there was much comfort found in knowing that Representative Conyers was on the job 24/7.

There is no doubt that it is Conyers public greatness that makes his fall even more difficult to accept for politically astute African-Americans. However, this situation is yet another reminder for Black America that it is a risky prospect to put all of one’s faith in our political or religious leaders as if they are some type of deity sent to save us from an angry white horde determined to end our existence. I take no pride in saying that we have seen this theatrical tragedy before and most likely will see it again.

When one considers the list of well-known black politicians (Jesse Jackson, Ray Nagin, Jesse Jackson Jr., Kwame Kilpatrick, Marion Berry) who have suffered an all too public and disgraceful fall from grace, it reminds us of something that we already knew, the charisma that seemingly drips from these men in no way cancels the reality that they never ceased to be highly flawed mortal beings. If nothing else, each of their falls from grace should cause African-American activists to re-evaluate the charismatic centralized leadership construct that we have applied to our peculiar plight in America. History has once again proven that the idea of Black America being successfully guided around the tripwires and snares that have curtailed our freedom since the settling of the Jamestown colony is a foolhardy perspective that invariably ends in copious amounts of disappointment.

Conyers fall from grace returns Black America to an all too familiar position of Where Do We Go From Here? Even a cursory examination of African-American history proves that the charismatic centralized leadership model invariably ends in failure and disappointment for all adherents. Most disappointing of all is that not even an easily accessible historical record has caused black activists to abandon figures such as John Conyers, Umar Johnson, Kwame Kilpatrick, or Jesse Jackson.

In many ways, it appears that Civil Rights organizer Ella Baker was correct in her warnings regarding the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the centralized leadership model that plagued the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Baker not only questioned what would become of SCLC if Dr. King were killed but also offered an alternative decentralized leadership structure that would allow an organization/movement to continue in the wake of a charismatic leader being removed for whatever reason.

If it can be said that politics begin locally, it can also be said that the heaviest portions of racial uplift must occur at the most local of levels; that being, in the realm of personal responsibility. If Conyers fall from grace teaches us nothing else, I pray that it impresses on individuals within our community that it is they, not John Conyers, Umar Johnson, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Michael Eric Dyson, Louis Farrakhan, or any other national-level political spokesperson who is ultimately responsible for their plight. The time has come for African-Americans on an individual basis to seize the time and take control of their own fortunes and realize that if the saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, our community needs them to dedicate themselves to not being that weakest link in regards to education, political acumen, social graces, and entrepreneurial/economic/business endeavors. We can not afford inefficiency in any shape, form, or fashion. One thing is for certain, John Conyers fall from grace definitively proves once again that even notable political figures have their hands full managing their own lives and therefore little time to help you with your unique issues; that job is yours.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017


I recently had the distinct pleasure to meet three of Wiley College’s finest minds during preparation for the HBCU Oral History Program. It is not often that I come across a collective of young people who remind me of myself in regards to their raw intelligence, temperament, and a God-given servant’s heart regarding the politico-economic liberation of their people.

In the relatively few moments that we spent together, these young people harkened my mind back to a conversation that occurred more than two decades ago when one of my professors predicted that I would one day abandon the idea that “all black people would be saved. You will one day realize that the daily grind of attempting to save your people is an inefficient use of your time. They would be much better served if you went forth and used your talents to secure economic resources that could then be used to rally political power and construct independent institutions to serve our community.” Maybe it is age creeping up on me or the arrival of wisdom; however, I will be darn if I did not express the same thoughts to “the Wiley 3” during our interesting conversation.

As I paid close attention to the Wiley 3’s liberation plans for Black America, it generated a bit of sadness for me because I had heard this same script across the past three decades. In fact, I espoused the same liberation plans during my undergraduate years.

If anything, my interaction with these young people serves as an indictment of every generation of African-Americans as it definitively proves that we have all committed the same crime. The unforgivable crime that I am alluding to is a repeated failure to teach the next generation the things that we have learned regarding American racial matters and a liberation road that becomes progressively clearer as our time on this planet approaches an untimely end.

Instead of instructing and ushering our next generation of black thinkers, intellectuals, and activists forward via an intensive course of life lessons and observations, older African-Americans tend to sit back and allow our next generation of leaders to travel a rough and stony well-worn path of redundancy needlessly. In essence, our failure to mentor and guide the next generation of activists, thinkers, community organizers, and intellectuals is akin to demanding that they re-create a wheel that we have sadistically hidden.

It is the time that those of us who have dedicated their entire lives to “the liberation and salvation of the black nation” cease a ridiculous reasoning that allows for ownership of movement experiences and lessons. Hopefully, such individuals will eventually come to realize that the African-American Freedom Struggle is analogous to a 400-meter relay race with four sprinters who must be prepared to receive the baton at the appropriate moment. I am confident that you understand, the key to winning this race is both teamwork and each runner understanding their role. Unfortunately for those interested in the liberation of Black America, it appears that one of the most esteemed traditions within the African-American freedom struggle is for those currently in possession of the baton to not only refuse to prepare succeeding generations to receive the baton, but also a refusal to pass the baton at the appropriate moment. For far too many of our leaders, the leadership position that they have occupied for far too long has become their only point of relevance. Individuals such as Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Charlie Rangel seem to consider a peaceful transfer of power to the next generation of activists an unlikely occurrence.

Make no mistake about it, current black leaders failure to prepare the next generation of African-Americans to receive the baton dooms African-Americans to start the race again in the starter’s blocks while other races/ethnicities continue the next leg of the contest. Until our current leadership cadre understands that we must not only prepare the next generation to receive the baton but also hand it off to them once we have taught them all that we know, we have no other choice than to continue our grandest tradition of economic inefficiency and political powerlessness.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

Look Out Chiraq: There is a new Sheriff in town and his name is Donald Trump

There is a colloquialism that says “politics make strange bedfellows.” Put simply; there is a host of political issues that will lead avowed enemies to join in a temporary mutually beneficial tenuous alliance. It appears that such a situation has arisen between the African-American community and U.S. President Donald Trump.

The evil that has led these two adversaries to come together is Chicago. More specifically, the constant gunfire occurring in Chicago has facilitated this pending alliance. Things have gotten so bad within Chicago, that it is not difficult to form a logical argument that its historic moniker of ‘The Windy City’ has been rightly replaced by a more reflective characterization of it as an American version of Iraq termed ‘Chiraq.’

If nothing else, the roguish criminal element found within Chicago is reliable. Anyone who has paid attention to Chicago’s previous two decades of black-on-black crime was not surprised to read a Chicago Tribune article that gun related killings are currently on pace to exceed last year’s historic rate of 762 murders.

The newly elected President has communicated both his intentions and feelings via Twitter with the following tweet. “If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on…I will send in the Feds!” Apparently, President Trump was calling Mayor Rahm Emanuel out on the carpet for his failure to address the deplorable activities occurring within the city that he leads.

Most agree that we must expeditiously address this situation where a segment of Black America have proven that they have lost their moral compass or any understanding of the sacredness of ‘Black Lives’ by murdering the fellow man at an unconscionable rate. Considering the alluded to despair, we really should not care from which direction help arrives.

I would hope that everyone would agree that the time for action is now. Hopefully, Black America has grown weary of old excuses from an ancient and irrelevant Civil Rights leadership cadre that has repeatedly failed to address the issues plaguing the blighted urban areas that they claim under their fiefdom. It would be a gross mischaracterization to say that Negro leaders have dropped the ball as their ineptitude makes it seem that they never held the ball in their clumsy hands.

Predictably, Civil Rights fossil Jesse Jackson has interjected his usual nothing to this discussion of how we can immediately curtail the killings occurring in Chicago by positing “We need a plan, not a threat. We need jobs, not jails.

As usual, Jackson fails to realize that an infusion of jobs would do little to quell the lawlessness and violence emanating from a segment of Black America that is reveling in the fact that the violence they have purposely executed serves as the primary pillar behind the construction of the war zone that we call Chiraq.

I would hope that the vast majority of African-Americans would not miss this opportunity to both recognize and denounce the pervasive pattern of social dysfunction that serves as an unreliable moral compass for the lawless in our midst. We must not be afraid to speak on these matters because of a paralyzing fear that many consider a harsh critique of criminality within urban communities to be a denial of the presence and accumulative effects of generations of racial bias, discrimination, and racism. We need to publicly address the unfortunate reality that far too many black urbanites translate poverty’s presence to be an impetus toward criminality and not a clear call for entrepreneurial endeavors.

At the end of the day, one should question if even the infusion of jobs that Jesse Jackson is requesting will stem the tide of black-on-black violence. How many of those raised in a dysfunctional ‘ends-justify-the-means’ culture that equates the accumulation of material objects with one’s value are willing to divest from the only worldview that they have ever known for a mundane, yet honest, existence? Experience has taught me that there is a segment of Black America that prefers the outlaw lifestyle to a respectable life.

This wild population within Black America is probably unaware that ‘there is a new Sheriff in town and his name is Donald Trump. And he is coming for you!!!!!’

As I mentioned above, ‘politics make strange bedfellows,’ and I never in a million years thought that I would ever agree with President Trump on any issue dealing with Black America. However, I do support his contention that the ‘carnage’ in Chicago must stop. Apparently, we do agree on the fact that black women and children deserve a safe place to live. And that is a goal that must be accomplished “By Any Means Necessary.”

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

The Gospel According to Huey P. Newton: Why it is so Easy for Black America to Follow Umar Johnson

There is no doubt that one of the most peculiar developments within the so-called ‘conscious community’ has been the ascension of a host of leaders whose very embodiment betrays the leadership post that they have fought others to claim. Over the past forty years, we’ve witnessed the appearance of a series of charismatic leaders that would have in previous periods of our struggle been summarily dismissed before they ever mounted a stage and pretended to direct the fight for racial uplift.

Beyond using their charisma to captivate an audience via copious amounts of style without any substance, organizing skills, or vision regarding the complex issues hampering Black America, figures such as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and most recently Umar Johnson have proven to be “all sizzle, no steak.”

Considering the voluminous vitriolic hatred that I experience each time that I address black leadership, it is evident that there is a large segment of Negroes who have yet to raise their understanding of racial matters to even a pre-school level.

I long ago realized that when addressing the Black community it is not always what or how you say things, rather, our people for some wrong reason are greatly influenced by who is uttering the political analysis and social commentary that they would otherwise ignore. It is for that reason that I reached into my book, Creating Revolution as they Advance: A Historical Narrative of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and grasped the following quote from Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton. Maybe those who have issued emotionally-charged criticism of my position on Umar Johnson will listen if the same analysis emanates from the Panther leader.

From my perspective, the only reason that Black America continues to entertain charlatans such as Umar Johnson is that they consider the African-American Freedom Struggle to be little more than a vehicle that should entertain them. Absent sensational language, unrealistic assertions, and slick phraseology, the ‘conscious community’ is not particularly interested in anything being offered; even if the offering is a reasonable blueprint that holds the potential to solve many of the politico-economic issues facing the community today.

After his release from prison, a disappointed Huey P. Newton realized several things about the ‘conscious community’ that are still relevant today. During a speech, the Panther co-founder realized the following about the audience he was addressing.

As I talked, it seemed to me that the people were not really listening or even interested in what I had to say. Almost every sentence was greeted with loud applause, but the audience was more concerned with phrase-mongering than with ideological development…the people were not responding to my ideas, only to an image, and although I was very excited by all the energy and enthusiasm I saw there, I was also disturbed by the lack of serious analytical thought.

Anyone who has spent years studying and seeking to execute the plans that have been laid out by African-American intellectual giants will tell you that during the past forty years the ‘conscious community’ has devolved into a population “more concerned with phrase-mongering than with ideological development.”

Although many will dispute this fact, the core of the ‘conscious community’s current problems emanate from its hostility to intelligence and refusal to engage classic texts whose workable liberation plans lay dormant inside the cover of a book; watching Youtube videos are not a substitute for reading. It is the alluded to pervasive ignorance and conscious decisions to ‘not know,’ let alone formulate and execute a politico-economic plan that explains the rise of figures such as Umar Johnson.

The gaping holes in the logic and understanding of the current ‘conscious community’ that are attributable to their refusal to study classic texts are the pathway to the rise of an “all sizzle, no steak” charismatic leader such as Umar Johnson. Were the ‘conscious community’ less concerned with phraseology and more concerned with developing a real path to liberation, figures such as Umar Johnson would be irrelevant! However, as long as the ‘conscious community’ remains committed to being entertained by slick-talking leaders whose lack of character, self-control, and modesty guarantees boatloads of drama fit for a reality television show, Black America’s problems will worsen by the day.

I wonder how long the ‘conscious community’ will remain unconscious. Quite possibly the greatest barometer of the ‘conscious community’s’ decision to remain subordinate will be the popularity of Umar Johnson.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017


I believe with all of my being that if you love or even care for someone, it is your duty to point them in what you deem the correct direction. It is this baseline belief that my repeated calls for African-American males to begin constructing a political agenda for the next Presidential election emanates from; I call this campaign African-American Male Agenda 2020.

Many political pundits are stating that Donald Trump’s startling ascendancy up the American political ladder was greatly buttressed AL SHARPTONby the 16% of educated African-American males who cast their ballot in support of the polarizing candidate. At this very moment, a stunned ‘Left’ is not only reeling, but also seeking to understand what this “betrayal” by African-American males means for their future relationship with the Democratic Party.

It is obvious that those African-American males who somehow escaped the enchanting siren song that the Democratic Party has mesmerized our kind with since FDR’s Presidency has taken a step, most likely unintentionally, in the correct direction.

Now please do not misinterpret the above statement regarding an ‘unintentional step in the correct direction’ as implicit support for Trump because I could never turn a blind-eye toward his outlandish rhetoric or inappropriate actions; nor am I a Clinton supporter. I am applauding this portion of educated African-American males for breaking what has become a disconcerting cycle of Black America merely gifting their vote to the Democratic Party candidate as if it were bequeathed to them in a will.

For far too long, African-American males have foolishly followed the advice of national level political leaders and followed orders in regards to which way they should cast their ballot. I simply refuse to overlook what can only be considered an extended tradition of foolish Black national level political leadership that has repeatedly dropped the ball in regards to either developing a rationale political agenda or mobilizing eager African-American males behind it in the energetic manner that they call our people into the streets after a white officer has killed a unspecified African-American male. Instead of a political agenda aimed at securing tangible politico-economic gains, we get foolishness, race-baiting, and shallow rhetoric, each of which is an extremely poor and inadequate substitute for political strategy.

Although I hate to admit it publicly, I suspect that the primary reason that so-called Black leaders have repeatedly refused to develop and mobilize the masses behind an appropriate politico-economic agenda flows from their desperate desire for continued relevancy. Put simply, pervasive political illiteracy and disorganization are mandatory for today’s Black leaders’ existence and we must never forget that there is much money and prestige to be found in the plentiful fields of African-American political illiteracy and economic inefficiency.

It is for this reason that I applaud those who have been able to break the enchanting hold that Black leaders who find it self-advantageous obama2to remain beholden to the Democratic Party have held over our people for far too long. It is beyond time for African-American males to begin critically examining self-proclaimed Race men who are “all sizzle and no steak”. I have tired of these so-called leaders performing a predictable, yet disgustingly despicable slight-of-hand trick that calls for them to tap into the emotions of our people via slick rhetoric prior to escaping without providing anything close to a plan with not only their importance intact, but also their pockets filled with dollars that should have been directed toward the uplift of the community that they have failed to serve in any significant way for far too long.

I pray that we all agree that Black America deserves so much more from its leaders.

It is time that African-American males continue their migration away from ‘established’ political entities and forge their own path by developing a political agenda that they can all get behind and wield as a powerful weapon during the 2020 Presidential election; trust me when I say that it is not too early to begin this process, just ask our opponents.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2016