Michaux’s race philosophy can be summed up in the National Memorial to the Progress of the Colored Race in America. The monument established in 1936 served to commemorate the civilization of black people through slavery. The memorial and the resulting organization was centered around a few principles:
Historical – Chronicle notable events in the black race
Memorial- Recognition of exceptional black people
Humanitarian- cooperation to the material advancement of black people
Cultural- progress of blacks in art, music, and wholesome entertainment
Patriotic – not political, but a belief in the founding documents and love for America’s founding
Spiritual- not sectarian, but a general love of G-d and the divine
The memorial was built in Williamsburg to commemorate the first recorded landing of slaves in 1607 and the last slave ship to arrive in 1861. Michaux saw slavery as a positive good. Slavery civilized an otherwise barbarous group of people. Michaux had a ceremony to commemorate the arrival of the last slave ship in 1961.
In the document that explains the purpose of the monument, he defends Robert E Lee falsely stating he freed his slaves before assuming command of the Confederate army.
The memorial was on a 400-acre tract of land with eighty farms. The farms were cooperative, and the profits were split evenly among all the participants. Michaux supplied the farms with equipment and livestock. Plus there was a small farm college started in the area so people could learn the best methods for farming. The farm was established in 1936 and expanded in 1943. Michaux wanted the farm to feed the church in the event of another depression.
Michaux did see the role of the church in America as the watchdog of the government. Only when the church takes its rightful position in America will, including racial segregation end. The clergy was to praise and critique the government, not the congregation.
From the pulpit, Michaux cast Hoover as a modern day Saul. Hoover abandoned G-d’s plan when he attacked the bonus army, a group of WW1 veterans that were protesting for assistance. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a modern day, David ushering G-d’s plan, which was The New Deal. Those that oppose The New Deal oppose the divine plan. Michaux campaigned with FDR at a mass rally in Madison Square Garden in 1932.
G-d will bring social change through individual hearts. Not by civil disobedience or directly lobbying the government. That is the core disagreement between Solomon Michaux and Dr. King. Many KKK members supported Michaux because his philosophy did not require them to relinquish anything. Whites were able to determine how much freedom black people get. Black liberation is on the timetable of whites under Michaux’s philosophy.
Anti-Black Actions of Solomon Michaux
Michaux’s criticisms of Father Divine were well publicized. Many of these critiques, such as allowing members to refer to him as G-d and disallowing followers to have sex, are rooted in a deviation of orthodox Christianity. However, when agitated, Michaux would refer to Divine as “that little Negro,” “little black devil,” and “hellish black rascal.” Coming from a light skinned black man of mixed race, these comments could be seen as colorist. Here is a quote listed in the Baltimore Afro-American from Michaux on Father Divine in 1934:
“White people don’t love colored people; Jews don’t like Italians, and you blame it on the depression.
Many a white mouth has sucked a black breast – But because it gave forth white milk, they loved it. Colored people loved marse and massa.
It’s different now. Whites hate colored because they think colored shouldn’t be their equals. Colored hate whites because of slavery. Slavery was God’s plan to civilize us.
We could’ve been in Africa throwing cocoanuts at one another if we hadn’t been brought over here and made slaves. All races have had to be slaves at one time or another.
There is no depression in heaven. Fish still swim, flowers still bloom, and the sun needs no National Recovery Act to make it shine or stop shining. It’s you: all the trouble is with you and in you. You don’t love.
Go home tonight and kiss your husband. Wake him up if you have to. It may scare him to death, but do it anyway as your first act to prove you love everybody.”
In 1965, Solomon Michaux bought a 636 Acre Plot near Jamestown for $180,000. He decided to turn this land into a housing development for whites. It was to be named the ” Francis Lightfoot Lee Colony.” Many in the black press believed this was a nod to Confederate General Robert E Lee who descended from Francis Lightfoot Lee. One of the streets was to be named after Senator / Governor Harry Byrd, an arch-segregationist. Even though the plan was to sell the homes to whites, naming streets after slave owners and segregationists was another action that one could view as anti-black.
Solomon Michaux was known for opposing Dr. King in three ways. The first was demanding Dr. King apologize to J. Edgar Hoover for saying the FBI was a tool of white supremacy. The second was defaming King by insinuating he was a communist and that he had affairs. The third was picketing an SCLC event in Baltimore in which King called for a boycott of Alabama, in 1965. His opposition inspired several opinion articles in the Baltimore Afro-American. All the writers felt that Michaux never gave a rational explanation for his opposition to King. We now know that Michaux was working for the FBI.
The Gospel Spreading Church website claims that Michaux referred to King as a “saint” in the church paper Happy News. The use of the word “saint” was satirical, according to Lerone Martin’s article in Religion and American Culture. Michaux would use the term to mock King while spreading lies about him being a communist and having affairs.
The Gospel Spreading Church alleged that Michaux had a protest for Civil Rights in 1961. There was one article in the Baltimore Afro-American that referenced the protest, dated December 9, 1961. The protest was not about Civil Rights, but Protestant / Catholic unity. Michaux sent a burlap sack and hood to John F Kennedy hoping he would wear it during his Thanksgiving meal. The actual protest had 500 participates from the various branches of the Gospel Spreading Church. Churchgoers demonstrated at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and two Baptist Churches. The article never mentioned Civil Rights.