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Black Leadership Analysis

This is an unofficial Spiral Dynamics blog. It is not endorsed by D. Beck PhD.

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This site will use Ego Development Theory to analysis various leaders and problems in the black community. Ego Development Theory is a value meme classification first invented by Clare W. Graves and expanded by Natasha Todorovic, Christopher Cowan, and Don Edward Beck.

The Government Surveillance of MLK

The Soviet Revolution of 1918 put Capitalist all over the world on notice. The idea of the poor banding together to overthrow the rich was terrifying to the world establishment. In America, the group most likely to foment that type of rebellion was African Americans. Army Intelligence began an extensive investigation of all black liberation organization.

Black people had been organizing for civil rights since the Civil War. After Reconstruction there were numerous efforts to retain and expand voting rights, education access, and employment opportunities. Army Intelligence began surveying these efforts for Communist influence in 1917.

The first member of Dr. King’s family with an FBI file was Reverend A.D. Williams, King’s maternal grandfather. He was pastor at Ebeneezer Baptist Church, which was known as an institute of agitation in the Atlanta area. Williams was the first president of the Atlanta NAACP. Martin Luther King Sr. inherited both the government surveillance and the pastor-ship in 1931. Scrutiny was increased by the government as Daddy King became involved with the National Negro Congress (NNC). At the time the government believed the NNC was working with the Soviets to overthrow the government and build a black ethno-state.

Army Intelligence began a file of Martin Luther King Jr in 1947 during his freshman year in college. King Jr was involved in the intercollegiate council and one of the facility liaison’s was a suspected communist.

One of Dr. King’s early connections to the Communist movement was Stanley Levison. It was true that Levison was connected to the communist party early on but broke all ties in 1957 before he met King. Many members of the American Communist party left once that saw the atrocities committed by the Soviet Union. Levison did help secure funds for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) through other former Communists.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation had an independent effort to investigate Communist in the black liberation movement. J. Edgar Hoover made his personal feelings know on the black liberation movement known in a 1958 Congressional testimony. He believed the Civil Rights Movement was a ploy to allow Communists to infiltrate and take over America. As the work of Lerone Martin shows, the Bureau had a coordinated effort to implant conservative pastors in white and black churches that support the status quo. They also kept a close eye of revolutionary pastor such as Dr. King.

In 1962, an FBI investigation was done to determine if Dr. King and other Civil Rights Leaders had contact with communist. The investigation proved that the Civil Rights Movement had not been infiltrated. In fact, the movement was too religious to be influenced by atheists.

Later in the same year King criticize the FBI, calling them a tool of White Supremacy. He went even further in saying that a segregationist couldn’t investigate an integration movement in impartial manner. Hoover responded by calling King a Communist in from of the National Women’s Press Club. This personal feud between Hoover and King will last the rest of King’s life. The FBI’s investigation and sabotage of King was fueled by personal vengeance, not any provable ties to the Communist Party.

The next associate King was affiliated with that was said to have communist ties was Stokley Carmichael. Carmichael was a chairman in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and was know for criticizing King’s stands on non-violence. The intelligence community alleged that Carmichael was working with the Organization of Latin American Solidarity (OLAS), which was training black guerrillas in Cuba.

King was very clear on his feelings about Stokley Carmichael. Both men believed in stopping interventionist wars and advancing Civil Rights. Carmichael never advocated racism or direct violence in front of Dr. King. King also did not view Carmichael’s position on black separation as racist. He understood Carmichael’s position did not come from the belief that whites were inferior but frustration in the advancement of a movement. Essentially, Carmichael did not want to be surrounded by people that meant him harm. So violence would only be part of Carmichael’s movement if white infringed on black self-determination. King made clear he would not advocate for violence under any circumstance.

Excerpts from conversations that were recorded by Army Intelligence that were published in a 1993 article by the Memphis Commercial Appeal show King advocated for non-violence when talking to Carmichael. King was steadfast in the position that the black man had a place in America and the destiny of all Americans was tied together. So again Martin Luther King showed no ill will toward the government.

The FBI went on a smear campaign of King led by Solomon Michaux. FBI henchmen would attack King’s credentials as a clergyman. Rumors began that King was not only adulterous, but a sex addict. Other henchmen claimed King only used the position as preacher for political advantage. The most sinister act in this campaign was sending king an “anonymous” bundle of tapes with a letter. The tapes were audio of someone having sex. The letter stated that these tapes would be pegged to Dr. King to destroy his name if he did not leave the spotlight or commit suicide.

King made two attempts to squelch the animosity between him and Hoover. In 1964, the men met to personally discuss the Civil Rights Movement. Hoover flew into a rage and went on an hour long diatribe attacking King. In 1965, King sent a delegation of pastors to make the case that King and the SCLC did not have communist ties. Hoover and the rest of the Bureau denied any crusade to sabotage or discredit King.

Many throughout the years have speculated that King was assassinated by government force or James Earl Ray did not act alone. The first investigation to absolve the Memphis police Department was 1977. It was followed by the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1979. The most prominent investigator is Dr. William Pepper. Dr. Pepper was the man that aided in King coming to his anti-war Vietnam stance. Also, Pepper got King involved with the National Conference for new Politics. To date, Dr. Pepper has written three books on the governments role in the King assassination.

In 1999, a Civil lawsuits was levied against Loyd Jowers. Jowers was a cook in the restaurant below the boarding house Ray stayed at and allegedly fired the fatal shot. This trial concluded Jowers and a host of government agencies conspired to kill King

The Department of Justice conducted a counter investigation in 2000 to debunk the results of the Jowers trial. The summary of the investigation can be found online and in the “Source” links below. Ultimately, they dismiss evidence in the trial as hear-say evidence and point to inconsistencies in the testimonies since the time of King’s death. The report never denies the FBI surveiled King and his family or conducted a defamation campaign. The report denies direct government involvement in King’s death set in motion by Hoover or Johnson. Most people that study the investigation find it odd that King was killed one year to the day of his famous anti-war Riverside Church speech. The report from the year 2000 came to the same conclusions as government investigations in 1977 and 1979, that James Earl Ray was the lone shooter.

Sources

  1. “Army Feared King Secretly Watched Him” by S Tompkins Memphis Commercial Appeal 3-21-1993 HERE
  2. Bureau Clergyman: How the FBI Colluded with an African American Televangelist to Destroy Dr. Martin Luther King Jr by L. Martin Religion and American Culture 2018
  3. “New Book Looks at Martin Luther King Jr’s Dangerous Friendship” on KPBS News uploaded 01-15-2015 This is an interview with author Ben Kain
  4. “King’s New York Connection: MLK Jr’s Friendship with Stanley Levison”by M Schuerman http://www.wnyc.org
  5. “Stanley David Levison” http://www.kinginstitute.stanford.edu
  6. “Martin Luther King’s Dangerous Friendship” by B. Kamin http://www.foward.com/culture
  7. “The FBI and Martin Luther King” by D. Garrow http://www.theatlantic.com
  8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVZscDBP2XE
  9. June 2000 Investigation of the Recent Allegations Regarding the Assissination of Dr. Martin Luther King HERE
  10. National Archives Record of 1979 House Select Committee on Assissinations HERE

Was Dr. King Green Meme?

Dr. King’s philosophy is centered in the Green Meme as described by Clare Graves, Don Beck, and his students. The Green Meme is characterized by building cross-cultural bridges, working to develop a social safety net, and ending war. The Green meme casts aside old lines that divide between race, religion, and ethnicity to build a new coalition. Building coalitions were the center of King’s life.

King’s version of Civil Disobedience was called Non-Violent Direct Action. In this method, people would refuse to comply with unjust laws. By mass disobedience, protesters would flood the local judicial system. Once the jails were filled, and the courts were backed up, those in power would have to free the prisoners or expunge the cases. On the grander scale politicians locally and nationally would see how many voters were willing to be jailed would be motivated to enact policy initiatives. The groundswell of support would motivate the politicians to adopt more liberal stances. The change in popular opinion along with progressive legislation would end segregation law.

Non-Violent Direct Action was different than the method used by the NAACP which was court action. An example of NAACP methodology would be Thurgood Marshall’s strategy in Brown v Board. Marshall would find state-level cases in which state law forbid someone from going to a quality school due to race. The client had to exceed the standards of admission and conform to mainstream standards of respectability. Not only would Marshall bring a strong case to the court, but he would also make sure the local paper covered the case. Once enough precedents were created on a state level, he was able to present Brown v Board to the Supreme Court.

NAACP campaigns did work. However, the only people involved were lawyers and clients. Both usually came from the more aristocratic class of black America. So even if an average black person benefited from the abolition of the law, they would feel like they were saved, not that they had affected change in their life. Also, if the only people that are defended by the NAACP were relatively aristocratic, there would be resentment in the masses of black people. The NAACP method succeeded in changing law, but it did not create a new community.

The other method was armed rebellion. Insurrection had never been done on a large scale by black Americans. The reason is that a minority could not have beat what is the best military in the world by the 1950s. Most black people would never even attempt insurrection because there is little likelihood of success. An attempt would end in a quixotic story for black people and another excuse to discriminate for whites. In the end we would have an even more divided nation.

King’s method could bring together many factions of the black liberation struggle and white America. Because it is based on an action and not a philosophy, people with different belief systems could participate. Also, people of different ages, education levels, regions of the country could come together for the cause. Even if one did not want to participate, they could respect the protester’s sacrifice. The peaceful protest would also challenge commonly held negative stereotypes of black people. In the end, there would be a movement led by black people that proves and supplements their dignity and self-reliance.

Challenging authority is a marker of the Green Meme. Peaceful protest directed at the institutions of injustice is a healthy way to pressure those in power. His demonstrations are still seen in a positive light today because they targeted at the institution causing the suffering. The bus was segregated, so the boycott was directed at the bus company. The city of Memphis wouldn’t pay black garbage workers equally, so there was a march to city hall. A study of King could prevent current activists from protesting obscure ideas in places not directly responsible.

Most in the mainstream media concentrate on King’s ability to find white allies. These connections are not to be discredited. Stanley Levison, ex-communist turned humanist, was instrumental in early funding. The coalitions built with Catholic, Jewish, and white Protestants were vital in spreading King’s message. But undoubtedly his most important collaboration was with John Kennedy and Lyndon B Johnson. Through them, he was able to enact the most important civil rights legislation for housing, voting, and travel.

Few people know of King’s effort to connect with more radical factions of the black liberation struggle. The most high profile of these instances was his ability to have a joint march with the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee. Both organizations wanted armed guards on the march. King acquiesced because he understood the importance of unity. The March Against Fear was a success.

An even more obscure instance of King’s ability to build bridges was with the Memphis Invaders. The Invaders were a local black liberation organization analogous to the Black Panthers. They got the name Invaders because they were accused of taking over the Student Union at LeMoyne – Owen College. They were also accused of starting the riot that ended Dr. King’s first march through Memphis. When King returned to Memphis he understood he needed the Invaders on his side.

He got the Invaders to agree to be marshals in the non-violent march. By making them responsible for keeping the peace, he removed an element of possible violence. Remember the SCLC did not consent to involve the Invaders. Most members of King’s organization saw the Invaders as street thugs. King saw them as young men trying to find themselves. The Invaders are still active in the community today, and they credit their continued success to their mentorship by Dr. King.

Another aspect of the Green Meme is being anti-war, and King was an exemplar in the peace movement. He first came out against the war in a 1967 speech in Riverside Church. His involvement in the Center for New Politics and The Poor Peoples Campaign provided a vehicle to get this message to the masses. To prove his point, he criticized those that praise his non-violent movement in the Dixie and support violence against the North Vietnamese. He understood that military expenditures deplete capital that could be used for public good.

His stance on the war, but him at odds with Lyndon Johnson and the Democratic Party. The Democrats had just signed the civil rights bill and were poised to do even more for the movement. Many, especially in the SCLC, wanted King not to take a stance on Vietnam. It took a generation even to get an audience with a president that was interested in helping. There was little King could do to stop the war, so there is no reason to risk the entire movement.

King stuck to principle and opposed the war. His anti-war stance led to people calling him a traitor and unpatriotic. It also gave many Democrats ammunition to turn Johnson on King. Ironically, exactly one year after the Riverside Church speech King was killed.

King centered his life around knocking down barriers of race and building a society based on love. Non-violence was a way of life that should permeate through the personal, community, and international relations. Love and Non-violence are a hallmark of a healthy version of the Green Meme. The Green Meme also challenges authority and traditional social structures. Peaceful protests are a healthy way to accomplish this goal. In the end, King built a more inclusive society.

What Happened to Black Bookstores?

Often you will hear black people say; blacks don’t support black business because we are brainwashed. We think the white man’s water is wetter and ice is colder. In actuality, black business suffers from some unique external problems and the same market forces that cause other companies to fall. This post will look at the history of black-owned bookstores and why we see so few black-owned bookstores now.

The first surge in black bookstores happened from 1965 to 1979 with the number of black bookstores increasing from twelve to around one hundred. The black book boom did not occur in a vacuum. The innovation of soft cover books in 1930 made books cheap enough for the masses. The number of printed books doubled from 1952 to 1962 and sales went up 83% from 1963 to 1971. So more books were available at a lower price to a market of black people who saw their income rise 140% from 1947 to 1960. Black bookstores were the outer manifestation of a book craze that took over the country.

One of the first black-owned bookstores was Lewis Michaux’s National Memorial African Bookstore started in 1939. The bookstore was not only a business but an epicenter of black politics in Harlem. Many other book entrepreneurs will duplicate this activist business model. The National Memorial Bookstore would host Nation of Islam rallies and book signings by Nikki Giovanni.

Michaux’s main competitor in Harlem was Una Mulzac’s Liberation Bookstore. Mulzac got into the book business while working with Leninist in British Guiana. When a new regime took over in that country, her store was closed, and she was deported back to America, the place of her birth. Her bookstore began in 1967.

Washington, DC had its own activist bookseller Charles Cobb Jr. In the wake of the Dr. King riots in 1968, Cobb opened up Drum and Spear with a grant from the Episcopal Church. Over the years, Mr. Cobb developed a mail-order catalog, publisher, and wholesale operation. Drum and Spear became the largest black bookseller by 1971.

One of the key drivers of the first black book boom was the Civil Rights Movement. As black people began to assert themselves, racist forces also worked to thwart them. FBI documents released through the freedom of information act revealed there was a concerted effort from 1968 to 1973 to monitor the activities of these bookstores. The FBI believed the owners were connected to communist and black nationalist groups committed to overthrowing the American government.

There was no store hit harder than Edward Vaughn’s Vaughn Books in Detroit. Mr. Vaughn was traveling to New Jersey when a race riot broke out in Detroit in 1967. He rushed back to his city to ensure his store was not damaged. On the way home, he is detained in two different states for questioning. Upon his return to Vaughn Books, he sees the words ” Long Live the African Revolution” graffitied on the door.

Mr. Vaughn sees the first order of business as trying to improve race relations in Detroit. He sends a telegram asking to meet with city leaders to discuss solutions. The mayor’s office gives no response. In later weeks the Detroit PD firebombed the store, but Vaughn repaired the damage. The police made a second attempt to destroy the store. They broke in clogged a pipe and turned on the faucet flooding the store. Vaughn again rebuilt and repaired the damage.

Drum and Spear was only blocks away from FBI headquarters, so they were visited frequently. Mr. Cobb was heavily involved with the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee in Mississippi and often recognized agents. One FBI agent admitted after months of surveillance, he realized that Drum and Spear was no different than any other bookstore. The FBI officials don’t believe him and demanded the agent find proof that the store was involved in communism. The agent bought a copy of Mao’s Red Book from a white bookstore and claimed he got the book from Mr. Cobb to satisfy his superiors.

The core patrons of Drum and Spear solidified around his business after they realized the FBI was attempting to destroy him. A similar phenomenon happened with Vaughn books. However, Cointelpro put too much pressure on the black power movement to keep it viable. The movement as a whole started to falter and wain. Black Nationalist started to leave the movement because involvement necessitated people taking a high risk with little material reward. Many black activists found steady work; others worked for change in multi-cultural movements.

In addition to the black power movement losing steam in the 1970s, Black Americans began to experience an economic downturn. Three years after being proclaimed the largest black bookseller Drum and Spear closed in 1974. Black America was more interested in individual success and not attempting to work for systematic change.

In response to the general change in Black America, a new genre of black books emerged, the black romance novel. The first installment was Entwined Destinies in 1980, followed by Adam and Eva. These books pushed no political ideology. Instead, they concentrated on universal themes of love and heartbreak. The black romance genre was easy to mainstream because anyone could relate to the stories.

Terry McMillan was the largest cross-over black romance novelist. Her first book was Disappearing Acts in 1984. She marketed by catering to black bookstores. The strategy continued to her second book in 1987 Mama. However, once a mainstream audience was able to sample her work, she began to sell at white bookstores.

In the late 1980s, a new development happened in the booksellers market, the megastore. Stores such as Barnes & Nobles or Borders were able to eat up market share by having black interest sections. Also, by having a network of stores all over the country, a customer could order books that were not in stock at their local store. So the megastores offered a better product at a lower price. So small bookstores, no matter what the interest, were on the decline. In 1975, small booksellers had 60% of the market by 1997 the share had fallen to 17%.

In 1992, three black women were on the New York Times Best-sellers list. Possessing Secret by Joy Walker, Jazz by Toni Morrison, and Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillian. This was the first time three black authors were on the best seller list at the same time. McMillian became a household name and conducted appearances all over the nation.

In 1997 durning the How Stella Got Her Groove Back tour, McMillan was set to conduct a book signing in Missouri. Antoine Coffer owner of Afrocentric Cafe protested the signing on the basis that she should do the signing at a black-owned business. Coffer called for a national boycott of McMillian unless she promised to do more book signings in black-owned bookstore. The book signing was scheduled at Library Ltd which had twenty-five times as many titles. The publisher decided to cancel the event in Missouri to avoid bad press. In reality, most of the black bookstores stayed afloat selling romance novels like Waiting to Exhale. This boycott would not only hurt one of the authors that kept Coffer’s business viable, but it would also only hurt black bookstores as a whole.

In the end, the novelty of black romance novels wained. They became just like any other romance novel in the genre. Most of the black bookstores could not compete with large sellers, and Amazon was a death nail by 2014 only 54 black-owned bookstores existed in the USA.

According to a Publisher’s Weekly article black bookstores are back on the rise. In 1999, there were 325. By 2014 there were only 54 in the USA. Fortunately, the number is back up to 108 in 2018. One of the stores Mahogany Books has a physical location in Washington DC and an online branch. Marc LaMont Hill’s bookstore is also inter-sectional offering queer studies, disability studies, and gender studies. So black bookstores are changing with the times.

Ultimately, there was a government plot to destroy black bookstores, but the larger factors were changing tastes in the Black community and market forces that hinder small niche businesses in every community. In the end, black bookstores adapted like every other industry. Once the company changes customers of all races frequent the store and make the business grow.

It is essential that we end the narrative that black business fails because black people just won’t support black people due to inherent low-self esteem. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with black people and thinking that there is something inherently wrong will prevent business owners from evaluating better business strategies. Customers are not obligated to frequent any business. In a free market, the owners should find ways to entice clients.

A link to Mahogany Books can be found HERE

Sources

From Head Shops to Whole Foods Joshua Clark Davis 2017

The Kojo Nnamdi Show 5-15-2018 “Drum and Spear: How a local bookstore educated Washington about Black Power in the 60s and 70s”.

“Author Bows Out of Book Signing” by Lorraine Kee St. Louis Post Dispatch May 20, 1997

“A New Generation of African-American owned Bookstores” by A. Green on https://www.publishersweekly.com April 06, 2018

Lewis (Louis) H. Michaux

On August 4, 1895, John and Blanche Michaux gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. The original name for the child was William Lonnell, but over the years his name changed to Lewis Henry Michaux. Lewis was the most rambunctious and unruly of his nine siblings. In spite of the child’s rebelliousness, he was able to form a close bond to his father. This bond would serve Lewis well over the years.

John Michaux was known as a successful businessman in the Newport News area. He owned and operated a saloon and a store. To secure funds and suppliers for these businesses he often had to have questionable and compromising relationships with whites in the area. Many blacks saw John as an Uncle Tom. John won a level of autonomy in an era few blacks had much power, that outweighed the compromises he made to acquire that freedom.

Blanche Michaux suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, at least that is what she would have been diagnosed with if she lived today. She would often have spells in which she would cry hysterically for hours on end. In 1908, the family had to send her to a mental institution. After leaving the mental hospital, John never treated her the same. John saw her like another child and was often abusive toward her.

To say a tumultuous home life caused Lewis’s rebelliousness would only be partially correct. Lewis began to work outside the law once he realized working as an agricultural laborer would never lead to financial stability. He first took a job picking fruit for $0.20 a day and realized the owners exploited his labor. So he decided to mimic those at the top of the agricultural industry. He began taking livestock and supplies and selling them on the black market. Lewis was caught stealing a bag of peanuts in 1915. The sentence was twenty lashings, but he did not cry out.

Marcus Garvey was profoundly influential in the 1920s. Lewis became a supporter and student of the famed leader that taught:

  1. Black self-reliance and voluntary separation
  2. Building black-owned business
  3. Learning to love yourself before interacting with the greater society.

Lewis and John would talk for hours on Garvey’s methodology. Garvey was one of the few black leaders that had substantial support amount working class black people. Lewis admired Garvey’s ability to relate to the common man.

John died in 1922. Neither Lewis or his brother Solomon had any interest in running the saloon or store. Solomon took his inheritance and put it toward his new Gospel Spreading Church. Lewis went to Philadelphia with $1000 from the store’s register to start a gambling parlor in Philadelphia. Their little brother Norris accompanied Lewis.

The gambling parlor became quite the Philadelphia attraction. Lewis made a mint serving some of Philadelphia’s most prominent citizens. Unfortunately, things turned south in 1925. Norris was accused of cheating in dice and shot. Police arrive on the scene. Norris went to the hospital, but Lewis was arrested. During the arrest, Lewis smarted off to the policeman. The police hit Lewis and broke his glasses. A shard of glass goes through Lewis’s eye. From that day forth Lewis had a glass eye.

Solomon Michaux as a locally famous preacher by this time and was able to pull strings to get Lewis out of jail. Lewis saw that he has a second chance at life and decided to join The Gospel Spreading Church. Solomon found Lewis a wife, Willie Ann, and made him deacon at the Newport News branch. After a few years, Lewis served as business manager at the Philadelphia branch.

The church served as a stabilizing force in Lewis’s life. However, religion couldn’t subdue his rebellious spirit. He read the Bible, but the Bible is just one of many books. Like Garvey, Lewis believed that black people spend too much time worrying about the afterlife. Having stability and wealth in this life should be paramount. After a series of public arguments with various members of the church, Lewis decided to leave. His wife chose the church over her husband. Lewis relocated to New York City.

Like any good brother Solomon never gave up on his little brother. By 1938, Solomon was working on his National Memorial to Negro Progress. Solomon believed Lewis would be a perfect person to recruit people to join the farmers’ co-op connected to the memorial. After one year Lewis convinced no Harlemites to move to the Virginia co-op.

Ever since leaving the church, Lewis became more interested in educating black people. He saw a lack of education as the biggest problem in the black community. Blacks could gain the confidence to be effectual in the world once they could learn from our plethora of experience across the globe. Garvey’s perspective on self-actualization primarily inspired him to start his bookstore. Luckily, the old office for the National Memorial was on prime real estate, right across the street from the Hotel Theresa.

Just like any other businessman, Lewis needed capital. He first went to his brother that had a fruitful ministry. Solomon’s wife would not allow him to give Lewis the $500 he needed to start the store. Instead, Solomon quietly paid the rent on the property at 2107 Seventh Ave (A.C. Powell Blvd) until his brother could take over. Lewis then went to a banker. The banker did not believe black people read enough to patron a bookstore. Lewis didn’t give up and contacted one of his brother’s business associates Major Richard Wright. The major gave him the $500 in 1939.

From starting with a pushcart in 1939, Michaux has a fully stocked bookstore by 1946. What is unique about his bookstore is if someone had no money they can read in a back room. The store became a hangout for Harlem intellectuals. Everyone from Langston Hughes to Nikki Giovanni had book signings there. Lewis would go out on his pushcart every day with his rhyming slogans to drum up business.

One of the people that enjoy his catchy slogans is a woman named Bettie Logan. She was around twenty years younger than Lewis, but they hit it off as soon as they started dating in 1952. In 1955, they married and had a child Lewis Michaux Jr.

Malcolm X met Lewis back in the 1940s when Malcolm was “Detroit Red.” Malcolm went to jail and emerged as a Nation of Islam minister. He was given charge of Muslim Mosque No 7 in Harlem. When Lewis saw him again in 1958, he could not believe his eyes.

The Nation of Islam was proposing a similar plan for Black America as Marcus Garvey. The way Malcolm presented it was more charismatic than his predecessor. Youth gravitated to him like no other black leader before. Malcolm was a permanent fixture in the National Memorial African Bookstore. When he broke from the nation of Islam Lewis gave him a donation to start Muslim Mosque Inc.

In 1968, the state of New York decided to buy the block that hosts the bookstore. Governor Rockefeller himself made sure the store stayed open by moving it a few blocks to 101 West 125th St. It became tough to keep the store going in a new location. To add to the trouble, doctors diagnosed Lewis with throat cancer in 1973. His wife runs the store in hopes that Lewis would recover soon. The state then decided to build another government building at the store’s new location. Lewis has no friends in the state house at this time, and the store closed in 1975. Lewis passed in 1976.

Sources
No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel by Vaunda Michaux Nelson 2004

Buy a copy HERE

Lewis Michaux Series

Lewis Michaux Biography

What Happened to Black Bookstores

Dr King in Four Quadrants

Where Do We Go From Here?: Black Power

As the Civil Rights Movement (CRM) marched on, many black people felt the success was too slow and regional. The CRM had crushed Jim Crow in the south, but it had little effect on conditions in the ghettos of the north. Black people needed more than just the ability to dine and shop with whites. America needed a full plan of economic and political power redistribution.

The book tells the story of the Meredith Freedom March also known as the March Against Fear 1966. James Meredith, famous for integrating the University of Mississippi, began a march to encourage blacks to register to vote. Meredith did not want any large Civil Rights organizations on the march and only asked individuals to join. Meredith was shot, but not killed on June 6, 1966 the second day of the trek.

Most Civil Rights organizations knew if the march was stopped blacks in Mississippi would always be afraid to register to vote. Dr. King leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Floyd McKissick of Conference of Racial Equality (CORE), and Stokley Carmichael of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and James Meredith held a meeting on continuing the march. They all agreed they had to continue the march as a joint effort of their various organizations. However, specifics needed to be agreed.

Both McKissick and Carmichael disagreed with King on non-violence in political struggle. All the men involved believed in personal self-defense. If a person was individually attacked for no reason, that person could fight and defend themselves. The point of difference was how should violence be used in demonstrations in self-defense. King held firmly that protesters should stay non-violent no matter what.

McKissick had frequently used the Deacons for Defense as security in protests. Carmichael had begun to train his followers in firearms if non-violent resistance proved not to work. So both parties believed that the movement might be forced to turn violent.

King was against having any armed guards on the march. If the march turned violent the mass of black America would not be ready for the repercussions. White supremacist would use any violence from blacks as an excuse to unleash a wave of violence unprecedented in the USA. Previous attempts at black armed resistance have ended in mass slaughter.

Non-violence was also needed to keep the moral high ground. King wanted to prove the violence displayed by the south was unwarranted. King believed the masses of white America were altruistic and if they realized the level of violence black America was under they would advocate for Civil Rights. Carmichael especially didn’t believe in the virtue of white America.

In the end, King agreed to allow the Deacons of Defense to guard marchers. Carmichael and McKissick had to agree they would not retaliate unless armed civilians threatened the lives of marchers. No retaliation would happen against law enforcement.

The second point of contention was should whites be allowed on this march. SNCC had recently expelled the white members of their group. The reason was whites often took leadership positions from local black organizers. The local organizers felt overwhelmed and could not compete with whites that had more education and leadership experience. So Carmichael expelled them all to open the lane for blacks to develop leadership experience.

The SCLC had always been integrated and would continue to be integrated. King reminded the others how many whites had died in the movement. It would be disgraceful to their memory to close the door now.

King understood what Carmichael’s intentions were. It was important that black run their organizations to build confidence in themselves and build leadership experience. Therefore, King hoped that whites would understand the importance of taking a backseat in leadership. Blacks needed to realize they could save themselves. If whites have the leadership roles blacks will continue to feel helpless.

King was able to get McKissick and Carmichael to agree to march with whites in the end.

The last point of contention was the slogan of the march. The SCLC faction wanted “Freedom Now.” The CORE/SNCC faction wanted “Black Power.” The slogan “Black Power” was too divisive for King to support. It could be interpreted as a call to violence, and it would also alienate white allies.

Black Power could mean different things to different people. Yet its meaning centered around three points.

  1. Disappointment in America and the pace of racial justice
  2. Coalesce resources of black people
  3. Call to psychological manhood

The unyielding boot of white power created the need for the term black power. Many black people have been frustrated by the slow pace of progress and have retaliated by creating a pungent slogan. These black people have lost faith in the fundamental and altruistic nature of American principles.

The call for separatism from the slogan “Black Power” would cause a consolidation of resources. It would cause black people to pool their talent and money to create a separate economy. King talked at length on cooperative economics which most term Ujamaa currently. The SCLC used the black-owned Tri-state bank to further economic goals in the black community.

The point of difference between King and Carmichael was the idea the Ujamaa would be enough to build economic stability in the black community. King supported many anti-poverty and wealth redistribution initiatives. The A. Philip Randolph Freedom Budget was explicitly mentioned in this book. Ultimately, black people could not build a strong economy alone. No ethnic group in America built an economy by separating.

The call to psychological manhood is essential to black liberation. No law or presidential decree will replace a deep unyielding sense of self-reliance. An intimate knowledge of black history will aid in building self-respect. Blacks would also need to start rejecting European standards of behavior and dress. King applauded the use of African aesthetic in clothing and culture. It is important for black people not to be ashamed of the part of their heritage that was different.

The disagreement came in the idea that blacks were or should be wholly African. King said that the natural state of an African-American made him partly African and partly American. Understanding himself from a dual perspective will be more advantageous than a singular. The dual perspective will also help black people feel at peace with the country they live and help build an integrated America.

In the end, the SCLC faction used the slogan “Freedom Now” and the CORE / SNCC faction used “Black Power”.

Ultimately, King supported a Gandhian, non-violent, multi-racial freedom movement. Nothing short would work. America is currently at a crossroads and there is no time for impracticality. Nihilistic separatism will only exacerbate the problem.

Joseph H Jackson (Pastor)

Accomplishments

  1. President of National Baptist Convention from 1953 – 1983
  2. Pastor churches in Mississippi, Nebraska,Pennsylvania,Illinois
  3. Represented Protestanism in the Second Vatacan
  4. Published six books from 1950 – 1980
  5. Member of fraternity Phi Beta Sigma

Joseph Harrison Jackson was born in Rudyard, MS in 1900. He worked as a farmhand in his youth while teaching himself to read and write. From his own efforts, he was able to attend Jackson College now Jackson State University. Later he earned a degree in Divinity and a Masters in Theology. He then began preaching all over the nation.

After pastoral appointments in Omaha and Philadelphia, he became pastor of Olivet Baptist Church on the Southside of Chicago in 1941. From this position at a very prestigious church, he was able to make his first bid for the presidency of the National Baptist Convention (NBC) in 1953.

Jackson is best known as an opponent of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Baptist Church. In the beginning, their relationship is amicable. Jackson was often a house guest of King when he visited Atlanta. During the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955 Jackson not only supported the movement in word, but he also gave $2000. However, by 1960 Jackson had misgivings on the Nonviolent Direct Action aspect of the Civil Rights Movement.

By the 1960’s the Nonviolent Direct Action (NVDA) focused more on willing breaking the law. In 1961, Albany, GA campaign thousands of people went to jail, and Albany failed to desegregate. The job market already discriminated against Black people. All these people were adding to their hardship by accruing criminal records. Many questioned if NVDA was worth the risk.

In addition, to the practical aspect of the risk of the NVDA, there was concern that it was not moral and patriotic to knowingly break the law. The Bible implores Christians to respect the law of the land. Also, as Americans blacks should want to promote peace and tranquility in the country we live.

Jackson prescribed that in addition to legal action blacks concentrate on self-improvement and economic collectivism. Blacks should search for and exploit opportunities given to them now. Instead of sit-ins to integrate a lunch counter, Jackson would prescribe community funding our own restaurant. Booker T Washington also endorsed bootstrap patriotism, and Jackson was part of the Washington tradition.

The old strategy of fighting Jim Crow through the courts had brought some victories. Brown v Board did determine school segregation was unconstitutional. The decision did not require anyone to go to jail. The previous pace of ending Jim Crow was not fast, but blacks were marching forward.

Tensions came to a head when Jackson attempted to get a fifth term as president of the NBC. The original NBC charter forbade a president from seeking a fifth term. A group lead by Pastor Taylor opposed Jackson. King and his father were part of the Taylor group. The team lost a lawsuit levied against the Jackson in 1960. Tension came to a head again in the 1961 NBC convention in Kansas City. Supporters of the Taylor faction stormed the stage. A tussle broke out and pastor A.G. Wright fell hit his head and died. The Jackson faction blamed Taylor for the death. As a result, 2000 pastors left the NBC and created the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC). King and Taylor joined the PNBC the next year.

After the separation, King and Jackson were still in conflict and tensions come to a head again during the Chicago Campaign of 1966. Jackson had become part of the Mayor Daley political machine by this time. So not only did he ideologically disagree with Dr. King, Jackson stood to lose standing with the Democratic party if he couldn’t stop King’s movement. Jackson went to work calling King an outside agitator and forbidding churches associated with NBC from having events for King. Jackson forbade any NBC members from going to King’s mass rally at Soldier Field. In the end, King was only able to achieve a partial victory in Chicago.

Upon King’s death in 1968, Chicago moved to have the road in front of Olivet Baptist Church named after Dr. King. Jackson changed the front address to a side entrance to ensure the address of the church would not have Dr. King’s name in it. The NBC continued to advocate for cooperation with the law and only trying to achieve equality through the courts.

Time magazine interviewed Jackson in April of 1970. In the interview, Jackson blames NVDA for leading the Civil Rights Movement down a path of treason. What started with civil disobedience has led to rebellion in the black community against the authority of the United States. Jackson’s steadfast patriotism and support of Nixon earned him “Patriot of the Year” from a right-wing organization.

Olivet Baptist Church erected a life-size statue in his honor in the 1980s. By 1983 Jackson was old and very ill, so he was not able to defend his position as president. Dr. T.J. Jemison took on the role and promised a new direction for the church. NBC embarked on voter registration drives, building black banks, and ordaining women. In 2001, the church removed the statue of Jackson because it was an engraven image.

Sources

  1. “The Albany Movement Campaign for Full Integration”Global Nonviolent Action Database https://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/albany-movement-campaigns-full-integration-georgia-fall-1961-summer-1962
  2. “A New Voice for the Baptist Church” by M. Hyer Washington Post http://www.washingtonpsot.com
  3. “Church Casts Aside Famed Pastor’s Statue” by r. Grossman Chicago Tribune http://www.chicagotribune.com
  4. “The Bible and the Ballot: Rev. Joseph Jackson and Black Conservatism in the Civil Rights Movement” by S. Lipson
  5. “Missions of Patriotism Joseph H. Jackson and Dr. Martin Luther King” by S. Hitchmough European Journal of American Studies
  6. “Joseph H. Jackson (1900-1990) The Black Past Remembered and Reclaimed http://www.blackpast.org
  7. 1964 National Baptist Convention address by J.H. Jackson
  8. “The Meaning of the Cross” Time Magazine April 4, 1970
  9. The Progressive Story, New Baptist Roots by W.D. Booth

Stride Toward Freedom: Philosophy

List of Influences

King’s most significant influence was Jesus Christ. The account of Christ’s love in the Bible provided a basis for operating in the world using sacrificial love. However, King was unsure at first how to translate these concepts realistically in the modern world. To find a method of practical application King began a journey into Christian and secular philosophy.

Early in King’s journey, he discovered the work of Friedrich Nietzsche. Neitzche’s belief in “will to power” was birth from his contempt for Judeo-Christian morals. King was also displeased with Neitzche’s belief that seeing piety and humility as a virtue was glorifying weakness. Ultimately, King saw little value in Neitzche or building his Übermensch.

Karl Marx’s philosophy challenged King by viewing history in materialistic terms not spiritual. Marx also believed in ethical relativism. This purely secular worldview flew in the face of Christianity that King loved.

King commended Marx’s ability to question wealth disparity and create a plan to address the problem. However, King felt Marx’s view of Capitalism was outdated for modern times. Because Marx undervalues the importance of the individual, he turns him into a cog in the wheel of the state. Despite the idea the state would dissolve once a classless society is established the intermediate cost is too high. Immoral means will not justify moral ends. King’s view on communism can be best summed up by the following quote:

Historically capitalism failed to see the truth in collective enterprise and Marxism failed to see the truth in individual enterprise. The Kingdom of G-d [is] a synthesis which reconciles the truth of both

King was often dismayed by mainstream Christianity’s optimism in the inevitable progress of history. Reinhold Neihbur’s philosophy gave King an even more solidified defense against unrealistic optimism. Neihbur is best remembered for supporting interventionist war to stop the spread of Communism, which he saw as totalitarianism. He also believed there was no moral difference between violent and non-violent resistance. The only difference is the state would meet non-violent resistors with less violence. In addition, Neihbur believed, non-violent resistance would only work on an oppressor with a moral center and could never work to stop a totalitarian army.

The problem with Neihbur’s philosophy was it often confused non-violent resistance with acquiescence. This confusion caused Neihbur to focus on militant solutions. King never lost faith in the good of man even though Neihbur highlights the evil. Ultimately, King saw Neihbur as over-focused on sin and not redemptive grace.

The first example of realistic non-violent resistance King read was Henry David Thereau’s Civil Disobedence. In the book, Thoreau makes the case that the people should go on a tax strike to stop the immoral Mexican American War. King saw the tax strike as a non-violent method to promote social change.

However, Gandhi was the example of non-violence par-excellence. Dr. Mordecai Johnson of Howard University first introduced King to Gandhi’s work. Satyagraha was Gandhi’s term for non-violent direct action, and the name loosely translates into ”Love Force.” Through protest such as The Salt March, Gandhi showed Christ’s principle of turning the other cheek could be used to effect social change on a national scale. The following quote summarized King’s feelings on Gandhi:

Gandhi was probably the first person in history to lift the love ethic of Jesus above mere interaction between individuals to a powerful and effective social force on a large scale.

What is Non-Violent Direct Action (NVDA)?

The goal of non-violent direct action (NVDA) is to create tension in society that facilitates justice. If a large enough segment of the population, disobeys unjust laws then they are no longer enforceable. Clogging the jails with protesters and the jails with activists also grab the attention of the greater society once the masses see the virtue of the protesters that will come around in support.

For Dr. King, NVDA was a way of life, not a tactic. The idea of it being a way of life means that it is a chief component of one’s spiritual journey. People should respond non-violently in interpersonal relationships as well as activism. It is not a tactic for those that do not have weapons or those afraid to fight. NVDA took just as much if not more bravery than armed resistance. Even if an avenue arose that made violence expedient to further the cause, King would not have accepted that option.

Another misconception about NVDA was the idea the goal was to move blacks ahead of whites. In reality, the goal was to build a new non-racial community. NVDA would win the friendship and understanding of white people. The participants would also develop and recognize their self-resilience and worth. The personal development achieved in NVDA would build stronger bonds in the black community. Waiters, doctors, garbage-men, and lawyers would participate in demonstrations as equals. King’s movement would destroy racial barriers and class barriers.

Practical Application

In the 1950s, as today there were many factions of the black liberation struggle. One wing Dr. King represents with a man named Vernon Johns, a fellow preacher in Montgomery. This more conservative faction believes in self-reliance and individual effort being the key drivers toward social advancement. The other was represented by E.D. Nixon a union activist in the same city. This branch is more liberal and focuses on collective action to force the government’s hand. These methods seem opposed at first, however, upon further investigation they are complimentary. A group of self-reliant individualist are best equipped to work collectively for the betterment of their people.

Some black people enjoyed relative comfort and financial success in spite of a system of segregation. Montgomery was home to the HBCU Alabama State University, so the city had a population of educated black people. Most of these people had stable work at high pay. However, they rarely would stand in protest for fear of losing their jobs. So the most talented black people rarely wanted to fight for equality.

The city of Montgomery did not educate the masses of black people. Segregation had not only halted their economic development but their personal growth. Fear and inferiority embedded themselves in the subconscious of black people. Black people did not understand the power they wield. Acceptance of the current system as it is had solidified in their minds.

The apathy of the educated black people in Montgomery spilled over to their preachers. Most preachers saw their role as entirely spiritual. They did not delve into politics partially because they saw it as not the church’s role and realized they would lose congregants.

However, behind the apathy and fear is a rage just boiling beneath the surface. This rage often spills out as riots. Most of the riots end the slaughter of countless black people involved in the riot and bystanders. Even if an individual lashes out in anger he is usually lynched. If this anger is not utilized constructively, the consequences could be dire.

Non-violent direct action became a force that could bring together black people of various philosophies because it centered around a behavior. Even though protesters would be attacked by dogs or shot with water hoses, it would be unlikely a non-violent protest would lead to the massacre of all of the black people in the city. The demonstration would serve as a way to channel anger into a constructive effort while building self-esteem. Finally, many whites would see the protest as noble and support change. Non-violent direct action is the only method that would solve all of these goals.

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