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Black Leadership Analysis

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

Ancestral Reverence in Shadow Work

Part of Buddhist and African spirituality is reverence for your ancestors. In both frameworks, ancestors provide guidance and assistance. In addition to the help they can provide, people that adhere to these spiritualities use ancestral reverence as a way to recognize and thank our forebears for their sacrifice. The practice allows for a person’s ancestors to move through them. Reverence for ancestors will also aid in coming to grips with yourself as part of an unbroken continuum of experience. The continuum stretches back to the beginning of time and forward until the end of time. The continuation happens whether an individual has children or not. The ancestors will help a person to integrate aspects of their personality.

My ancestral reverence practice occurs after my daily meditation. After meditation, I bow, the Buddhist term is half-prostration, and imagine how my ancestors looked. In meditation, a person should move away from using words and attempt to concentrate on first order sensations. I chose as my ancestral image to be a slave. For me, a female image is more natural and more soothing. I am not sure why.

I feel Black Americans need to come to terms with our slave ancestry. The first step for us was coming to grips with our African ancestry. Black Americans were told the pre-colonial Africans were primitive and lacked culture. Those myths have been debunked, and most blacks understand that African civilization was advanced.

I viewed my slave ancestry as something I have to overcome. My slave ancestors sacrificed for me to be here. I now owe them being successful. If I am unsuccessful, their sacrifice was for nothing. I suspect many other people feel the same way.

What I was missing was slaves had full lives in spite of the oppression. The slaves sought wisdom, savored the few pleasures they had, and found love. I am a product of them finding love. When I came to grips with that, I could allow myself to live a full life. My life doesn’t solely have to be about being successful. My slave ancestors showed me how to have a full life in spite of oppression. I owe them being happy, not successful.

Anyone that follows my blog knows I have completed extensive research on the Pullman Porters. While doing research, I stumbled across many stories of the abusive treatment the porter’s received. Porters were called every racial slur. One of the most frequently used was calling all porters “George.” The name came because a man named George Pullman owned the Pullman company. During slavery, slaves were named after their master. Most passengers, especially from the south saw the porters as slaves and treated them accordingly.

These stories triggered me emotionally. Many times in my career I did not speak up when I or someone around me suffered a racial injustice. Many of my black co-workers expressed that I was extremely passive. I had a rocky start to my career and felt I needed to concentrate on the “nuts and bolts” of the job. I avoided unnecessary conflict because I had very little experience and could be replaced easily if things come to a head. I was fired from my first job due to having a racial conflict, and I did not want to repeat this pattern.

I often second guess my decision on this job. I regret not standing up for myself and others more. I have a few instances, in particular, I regret very much. I justify it to myself by saying I had to take care of business. I needed to hold on to the job and gain experience. Deep down I feel not only did I not stand up for myself, but I also did not stand up for my race.

I contrast my struggles with what the Pullman Porters accepted from the company and what they were able to accomplish in the field of Civil Rights. Even if a porter was completely passive, he was part of an organization, if he joined the union, which laid the foundation for the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement. If he was kowtowing, he kowtowed for the struggle. If a few racist white people laughed about making a spectacle of a porter, who cares? The porter laid the foundation for me.

I am not saying I have accomplished anything anywhere near as significant as the Pullman Porters. However, progress is not about individual achievement. Progress is about community achievement. I could get the opportunity to redeem myself, someone in a future generation could redeem me. Everyday I decide if the cumulative affects of my actions are positive or negative. Being black is not about winning every fight; no one wins every fight. The goal is to have a larger balance of positive action than negative actions. Your positive action balance is tallied every day. In each moment you create your legacy.

I recently, re-read Che Guevara’s Motorcycle Diaries. In the book, he recounts a story of meeting a black man in Peru that reported the murder of his friend. Below is the quote:

“Until this point, we had been traveling in the same truck as the black guy who had reported the murder. At one of the stops along the road, he bought us a meal and throughout it, lectured us on coffee, papaya, and the black slaves, of whom his grandfather had been one. He said this quite openly but [in] it you could detect a note of shame in his voice. In any case, Alberto and I agreed to absolve him of any guilt in the murder of his friend.”

The man from Peru had an intellectual understanding of the history of his people. The man did not have emotional acceptance, hence the shame. A person must foster both the intellectual understanding and the emotional acceptance. I feel that we as black people have a difficult time with the fact we have had to and still have to acquiesce to injustice. It is a survival method forged by our slave ancestors and is often still useful. Black people hate to admit that they had to acquiesce and others around them had to acquiesce.

The shame of acquiescence causes black people to vilify many our mainstream Civil Rights leaders as Uncle Toms. Many hate that A. Philip Randolph had to say the racist American Federation of Labor leader and L. Johnson was a greater friends to blacks than Lincoln. He was able to accomplish more than any other Civil Rights leader. Randolph was not a dogmatist; he was a pragmatist. He built relationships and allied with those he needed, not those with similar views. He separated the needs of the group and race from his personal need for pride. The same goes for Ed Nixon who organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Nixon was also pragmatic and extremely successful. He is now often viewed as a Tom. These men should be revered as examples of successful leadership.

I think the vilification of Nixon and Randolph would lessen if black people came to grips with their issues with acquiescence. Once a person accepts they did not directly confront the racism they encountered they can accept the behavior in other people. When can then realistically evaluate the sum of all actions and determine if the leader was successful or not. It is true many leaders acquiesce and get no benefit to themselves and the race at large. Acquiesce without results should be vilified. However, if you can prove the leader made the material conditions of black life better, then give the leader the credit they deserve.

To recap, ancestral reverence will help to integrate various aspects of a person’s personality. Once a person has a better understanding of themselves and their psychology, they will reevaluate many leaders from a more logical standpoint. Often we don’t like in leaders aspects of ourselves. As a community, doing shadow work will help us to choose the most suitable leaders.

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Analysis: Asa Philip Randolph

What He Has Right

Randolph’s treatise on lynching was superb. He understands and relays to the audience the underlying cause of lynchings is economic, not racist. By being able to see the bigger picture, the audience can understand the manipulation. The treatise on lynching illustrates how race issues are rooted in economics.

Randolph did understand the causes of World War I. Many modern historians point to the German colonial expansion was a catalyst for the War. Also, the war can be a boost for the economy and did boost the economy in America and Europe. The war utilized idol materials and workers.

He also understands that global peace will only come after all people are independent and self-agentic. He realizes that the non-European countries are not ready for full independence as of yet. However, the European countries should nurture and bring the countries along.

Randolph’s ultimate plan of bringing together black and white workers will work to the benefit of all involved. Uniting the workers will reduce the number of people willing to cross picket lines and gives the union more power. However, he also understands people will not integrate without laws forcing them to do so. He knows the failure to comply should lead to a loss of funding or political power.

The march toward fair hiring practices will require sustained action. He encouraged the crowd to take the energy back home. He also tutored younger leaders such as Martin Luther King. Randolph understood the process would not only extend his whole life, but it will extend through many lifetimes.

Randolph is correct that he and more moderate Civil Rights leaders are the voice of most Black Americans. Only Dr. King can rival Randolph’s list of accomplishments. Integration is the only way forward for a people systematically disenfranchised. Blacks should not leave or separate. Blacks were an integral part of the building of the country and should reap all the same rewards.

What He Has Wrong

Peace is not a sufficient motivator to get the European countries to facilitate the growth of Non-European countries. The Orange meme, which most European countries were operating at the time, has no reason to help other countries grow. In the Orange meme, the European countries want to have as much status and resources as possible. If profit sharing and knowledge sharing happens, the European countries must give up their status. Here are a list of reasons why the European nations will never facilitate third world growth

1. The European nations want to keep the resources to themselves
2. The European nations want to keep labor cheap
3. The European nations do not see the natives as intellectual equals
4. Admitting that change is needed proves that the European countries were wrong in the past

Full equability requires a shift in consciousness. No council full of countries at Orange level consciousness will perpetuate the current system. That doesn’t mean that a council will not at least ensure the world does not regress. However, profound psychological work will be needed by a large group of individuals before any real progress occurs. At the time Randolph was writing this treatise very few people had made the connection between spirituality, politics, and psychology. The modern day analyst, especially the integralist, can see where this philosophy is lacking.

His framing of President Johnson is overly rose-colored. It is important for the reader to know that Johnson was a Dixiecrat and supporter of segregation until he became president. Most other historians recount how afraid most black people were when Johnson took over the Presidency. Johnson did sign some of the most important Civil Rights legislation. However, the motivation was more political than moral. A separate blog post is needed to give this subject justice.

It is also clear that Dr. King was under FBI surveillance during his entire career. Johnson had to be aware of this fact. To say Dr. King and Johnson had good relations is simply not accurate.

The Democratic party absorbed most of the Civil Rights leadership of the 1960’s. Randolph knew he had to keep his political allies to push forth more legislation. Randolph was also Vice President of the AFL-CIO. The AFL-CIO was strongly allied with the Democratic party. Randolph was being pressured on all sides to keep a positive relationship with the Democrats.

Where is A. Philip Randolph on the Spiral

A Philip Randolph is in the Orange Meme Integrationist. He is a Democratic Socialist that supports First Order Change. Randolph saw race as a subset of the larger issue of economic inequality. In his work, he concentrated on American blacks. Even though he did have a world perspective, which is usually Orange Meme, his work was all in America. Randolph was a power player in the Democratic Party for decades and had recognition internationally. He concentrated on America.

At the beginning of his career, he wanted Second Order change and supported the revolution in Russia. He saw the treatment of minorities in the USSR and determined Communism was severely lacking. Just because he felt the system was superior that did not mean change was not needed. Randolph demonstrates pragmatism in action.

I saw no change in values, so there was no shift up or down the Spiral in Randolph’s public life. He is centered in Orange the entire time.

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March on Washington Movement

After the departure from the National Negro Congress, A. Philip Randolph tours the country with his Brotherhood Vice-President Milton Webster. Webster has the idea of a mass demonstration in Washington. He suggests 10,000 people Marching on Washington. [1] Randolph closes his speeches with a call for a mass protest. The idea spreads like wildfire. In 1941, many are calling for Randolph to go through with the march. Black people have been excluded from the Defense Industry too long. Randolph also wants to end Jim Crow in the military.

Randolph started the March on Washington Movement to create a new coalition to create a mass demonstration to force the government to end segregation in the military and defense industry. He allies with the NAACP, Federal Council on Negro Affairs, and National Urban League. [2]All groups are moderate Civil Rights organizations that wanted first-order change.

Mary McLeod Bethune headed The Federal Council on Negro Affairs. She was a Washington insider that had unprecedented access to the Roosevelts. She was the highest paid government official at the time. [6] Bethune and Eleanor Roosevelt were close friends. Bethune received inside knowledge on how the President thought and had an advocate for blacks that is extremely close to the President.

Walter White headed the NAACP at this time. White was another Washington insider and had several meetings on the topic of desegregation in the defense industry. [6] In later years, Randolph and White become rivals and tell conflicting stories about who convinced Roosevelt to sign the executive order. Ultimately, both men had influence on Roosevelt. White pressured from inside the White House. Randolph pressured from outside the White House.

He now needs to ensure those that want second-order change, the Communist, are excluded from the group. He calls for only black people to come to the march. At the time, few whites outside the Communist Party had interest. There were very few black people in the Communist Party because they abandoned the cause of Civil Rights during World War II. Calling for only black people to be at the march was a shrewd method to dissolve the threat of Communist agitation. There is still bad-blood between the two groups since the National Negro Congress split and the Communist could use a disturbance at the march to reduce A. Philip Randolph’s power.

Roosevelt never said he was against desegregation, but he did not actively support Civil Rights. He needed Southern support to pass and continue the New Deal. To keep the Southerners support, he purposely excluded domestic and agricultural workers from New Deal benefits. At the time 60% of black people were domestic and farm workers. Roosevelt also refused to back an anti-lynching bill in 1938.[3] No matter what Roosevelt personally believed, he would always act with political motives.

The USA had not entered World War II in the summer of 1941. Roosevelt wanted to aid the allies in not only supplies but soldiers. He also was framing the war as a struggle against tyranny and genocide. A mass demonstration against racism would call into question America’s moral authority in the war. Roosevelt could not risk a civil disturbance at this critical time.

Eleanor Roosevelt, heavily influenced by Bethune, calls A. Philip Randolph to discuss postponing the march. Randolph agrees to meet with Roosevelt, other Civil Rights leaders, and various cabinet members. According to Randolph in a 1968 interview, Roosevelt was chiefly worried about a civil disturbance at the march. [4] Roosevelt initially proposed an executive order to outlaw segregation in the government contracted defense industry in return for calling off the march. Randolph would not agree. He demanded that the government include non-contract defense industry. Randolph is only willing to postpone not stop the march. Roosevelt balked at first but ultimately capitulated. Roosevelt signs Executive Order 8802 two days before the march. [4]

Randolph makes a unilateral decision to call off the march. [2]It is possible he did not have enough time to consult with the rest of his team. It could be that he thought the team would not agree unless the order included the military. Many historians chastise Randolph for unilaterally calling off the march. Originally the March on Washington Movement was a collaboration among equals; now it was Randolph’s group.

There is another group of historians that believe Randolph would not have been able to make the march happen. [6] Washington was a segregated city at that time, that meant few accommodations for housing and restricted access by rail. Because many of the rural areas around DC did not have black newspapers, word of the March spread in major cities across the country not to blacks within driving distance. It is possible that Randolph knew he would not be able to gather his 100,000 people.

Randolph has only postponed the march he has not called it off altogether. He now has branches in Los Angeles, Chicago, Trenton, Milwaukee, Washington, Cleveland, Richmond, St. Louis, Atlanta, Savannah, St. Paul, and Jacksonville. [2] The new national movement was successful in creating demonstrations in New York, Chicago, and St. Louis.

Roosevelt created the Fair Employment Practice Committee, FEPC, to enforce desegregation in the armed forces. He appoints Southerner Mark Ethridge to oversee the committee. Ethridge was a staunchly believed segregation had moral and practical justification. [2] The FEPC has no authority to punish the contractors or government agencies if they are found not obeying the executive order. The result of the FEPC is only documentation that segregation is happening. [2]The FEPC ended due to government cuts in 1943.

The FEPC did have practical reasons for not punishing desegregation. The country was in the middle of supplying and fighting (by the end of 1941) a war effort. Stopping a production line or pulling a contract could get people killed on the front line. However, there could have been measures taken that would not shut down the line, such as disqualification in future contracts.

Randolph continues to use the threat of a mass protest to pressure the government into desegregating the military. To execute a massive protest, he needed more organizational infrastructure. In the 1942 conference, organizational ground rules are made. The first is no money from whites. The MOWM can only serve blacks if it is funded by blacks. The second was a complete denouncement of communism. The third was all local branches come together for the March on Washington.[6] Other than the March on Washington local offices had autonomy.

The institutionalization of the MOWM causes the NAACP to worry that they could lose membership and funding. The NAACP denounced the MOWM as being exclusionary to whites. Turning the NAACP into an enemy caused the most problems with the Washington local branch. The NAACP did everything to discourage membership. The DC local was found to have no members in a 1943 audit. [6]The lack of membership was partly due to poor management, but denouncement by the local NAACP did not help the matter. [6] If there is no support in the city in which the protest takes place, there is no reason to think a protest can happen.

The Left criticized the MOWM first. The Left felt the executive order did not go far enough because there was no penalty for non-compliance. The second issue was a fear that Randolph was working to gain a foot into the Democratic Party on the backs of his people. Blacks would then have total loyalty to the Democratic Party. People do not bait hooks for caught fish. From the extreme Left the criticism was Randolph was not attempting to overthrow an inherently racist system, he was just trying to get black people included in the system at a deeper level.

On the right, there was the charge that a mass demonstration is too risky. The summer of 1943 birthed two race riots in Detroit and New York. Both ended with dozens of blacks killed or injured. The Ohio newspaper,Cleveland Call, urged Randolph to concentrate on local protest at factories. The paper cited numerous instances of local protest working without the risk or cost of a national demonstration. [7]

Randolph wanted the march to be all black to reduce the likelihood of infiltration by saboteurs and to promote black pride. Having an all black march would combat the inferiority complex in blacks. [6] If blacks cannot do anything on their own they will never have the confidence to compete in America. Having the MOWM funded totally by blacks allowed for total control of the movement. Randolph reiterates an old saying “there is no instance of people… winning freedom who did not have to pay for it in treasure, blood, and tears, and since who pays the fiddler calls the time.” [6]

Ultimately, a movement can’t be funded by people with no money. Funding from the NAACP dries up when the MOWM is thought to be working for a permanent organization. In 1942, Randolph admitted to a lieutenant that the movement does not have a dime. [6] In 1943, Randolph asks the Executive Committee for personal loans to keep the movement afloat. [6] The organization holds itself together until 1947 with no paid staff members.

The first organization dedicated to nonviolent direct action was The March on Washington Movement. The NAACP focused on winning cases; the National Urban League groomed politicians, the MOWM got people in the streets across the nation to protest. The MOWM successfully picketed an arms manufacturer in St. Louis along with other local victories. The blueprint will be taken up in the 1960’s by Randolph protege Dr. Martin Luther King.

As stated earlier, Executive Order 8802 did not desegregate the military. Truman will have to implement Executive Order 9981 in 1948 and Secretary McNamara issuing Defense Directive 5120.36 in 1963. However, it was a crucial first step. After EO 8802 the number of black civil servants triple and the number of blacks in the defense industry went from 8.4% to 12.5%. [6] Desegregation would never happen overnight. It took many people of all races working together in many different manners. The MOWM created a template for non-violence that will be used for the entire Civil Rights Movement.

One can not be sure why Randolph left his earlier pragmatism behind. It is reasonable to assume he was terrified of communist infiltration. It is also sensible to think he needed an all-black movement to be successful to salve his ego. It’s hard for a person to share a victory with people he does not trust. I assume there were some shadow elements within Randolph that caused some self-sabotage. Randolph also lacked a lieutenant in the MOWM effort. Milton Webster was a pragmatic Vice-President of The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Randolph had a few female secretaries, but due to money issues, none stayed long enough to influence the movement. History will never understand Randolph’s lapse in judgment.

Sources
1. Rising From the Rails by Larry Tye
2. “The Negro March On Washington Movement in the World War II Period” https://theanarchistlibrary.org
3. “Race and FDR’s New Deal” http://www.shmoop.com
4. Thomas Baker Interview with A. Philip Randolph October 29,1968
5. New York Amsterdam News August 7, 1943
6.“It’s A New Kind of Militancy” by David Lucander
7. Cleveland Call Sept 12, 1942
8. “Harry Truman and the Desegregation of the Military” by Joy A. Reid http://www.thegrio.com

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Basic Philosophy of Asa Philip Randolph

Lynching

In 1917, Randolph and his business partner, Chandler Owen, wrote a treatise called The Truth About Lynchings. Lynchings was a way to punish people or entire groups without a trial. Lynchings were very common in the South, and the victims were mostly black.

Randolph and Owen created the treatise to combat the myth that black men having sex with white women cause lynchings. Often interracial relationships ended with an accusation of rape. The whites of the town would rally and kill the offending black man.

To prove the cause of lynchings is not racial, Randolph and Owen show the stats for victims of lynching. Around 35% of victims of lynching were white, and only 34% followed a rape charge. There were black men lynched for dressing well, standing up to whites that disrespected them and attempting to vote. Often black men were just randomly killed. Even when a black man was accused of rape, he did not even know his white accuser. The cause of lynching is much deeper than race.

The writers contend all the victims were extremely poor and often exploited for labor. Most times blacks moved into an area and provided incredibly cheap labor. The skilled labor, generally white, would then need to run these people out of town or kill them. A mob would form to kill one man in hopes the rest would leave out of fear. If that did not work, an attack on the entire black population would follow. That was the story of lynchings in the North.

In the South, lynching provided cause for a constant state of fear in the black community. The state of fear impeded organizing and protesting for equal pay. The fear keeps the old exploitative Capitalist system alive, and the South stayed one step away from slavery.

The capitalists perpetuate racial fears and cause lynchings. The wealthy control the newspapers and can create whatever narrative they want. The public believes the narrative, and the skilled workers are pitted against non-skilled workers. Both have their attention diverted from the real cause of suffering.

Ultimately, exploitative Capitalism led to lynching. Instating socialism can correct the problem. The first order of business was to have all trade unions integrated. Blacks also have to begin to support trade unionism. It is insane to be against trade unionism because most black people are in the working class. In spite of the discrimination in the Union, the fundamental principles of Unionism are sound.

International Affairs

Randolph wrote a treatise on how the United States should handle World War I in 1917 with fellow socialist Chandler Owen. The duo was instrumental in the formulation of socialist thought in the black community. For the reader to fully understand the essay a summary of World War I is needed.

World War I started in 1914 with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne. A terrorist organization known as the Black Hand carried out the assassination, and the group had connections to Serbia. Serbia had recently gained full independence from the Ottoman Empire with the help of Russia. The Serbians wanted to liberate various Slavic countries from Austria – Hungary.

Austria – Hungary declared war on Serbia to avenge the killing of the heir. Serbia had a mutual protection pact with Russia. An alliance between France, Russia, and England had existed for decades. The entry of Germany on the side of Austria – Hungary culminated in “The war to end all wars.”

At the beginning of 1917, the United States was not yet in the war. A telegram from Germany was intercepted by the British. The telegram offered Mexico aid if Mexico declared war on the United States to reclaim land lost during the Mexican-American War. The telegram is now known as the Zimmerman Telegram. Public opinion swayed from isolationism to interventionism upon publication of the Zimmerman Telegram. The USA declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917.

Even though America was justified in entering the war, there were many issues getting soldiers half-way across the world. America could not reinforce European Allied force at speed to move the front line. 1917 was a year of stalemate. America was dumping tons of resources in a war with no end in sight. The government instituted the draft. America will solve all these logistic issues and by 1918 ten thousand new soldiers will be sent to France a day. The Allies will begin to push the Axis Powers back, and the war will end in the summer of 1918.

The stress of the war was not only taking a toll on America. Russia was also near starvation by 1917. The harsh living conditions for the average Russian resulted in a revolution to overthrow the Czar. The new government was the first Socialist government in the world. The new Russian government scales back on the war effort. A treaty between German and Russian will be signed in March of 1918.

Randolph and Owen’s joint treatise Terms of Peace and the Darker Races details how to the major European powers can gain peace with each other and with the non-whites of the world. The treatise takes the position that the war was not intended to avenge the death of Ferdinand. The war was to halt German progress in acquiring new territory in Africa and the Pacific. At the beginning of the war, Germany had colonies in East Africa, West Africa, Northern part of Papua New Guinea, and various islands in the Pacific. The German colonial growth threatened French and German power in Africa and beyond.

The second cause of the war was a surplus of military goods that was going idol. Capitalists run Europe and want to ensure resources go to use and generate profit. However, once the excess of military assets has been exhausted the European powers will end the war because there is not profit motive. The following paragraph is a good summary.

“ After the goods produced shall have been used. There is no gain in having the war continue, but on the contrary, the war’s continuance would be a substantial debt upon capitalist. The capitalist…sell immense amount of goods. When the war ends, the government owes them huge debts. It is necessary for the soldiers to become laborers now to pay this debt. Hence the object of peace is profit – gain- just as the object of war is.” p.2

To illustrate his idea the capital gain is the real reason for prolonging the war he shows how differently the new socialist government in Russia and the capitalist government are handling the issue of peace. The Russians have made their terms for peace well known. Britain and France engage in dark diplomacy, working on terms with Austria -Hungary, and Germany in secret. He concludes that Britain and France want continuance because they still see that the venture is profitable

The profit to be made is not only on the sale of arms and supplies, but the reclaiming of colonial lands recently lost to Germany. The new colonial lands have numerous untapped resources. Further development in Europe is no longer possible due to overuse of land. The new colonial lands are vital for further growth. The allies hope to weaken Germany and take the land back.

The European power’s main relationship to the colonial land is for exploitation. The people of the land are seen as a vehicle to be used to cultivate the ground. They are not independent/agentic beings. The following quotes are a summary of this aspect of the philosophy.

“To prevent such a fight, one of three things may be done: You may eliminate the fighters, you may remove the thing they fight about, or change the attitude on what they are fighting about.” p.8

“Herein lies the real bone of contention of the world war – darker peoples for cheap labor and darker people for rich lands” p 13

“Before getting into the terms of peace for the darker nations, we wish to observe that incidentally are the darker people’s exploited. It is not because of their color per se, but because colored peoples happen to assume such a low place in the scale of civilization just now as to make such exploitation attractive easy and possible.” p 15

Because you can not eliminate the European nations or the colonial lands, the attitude toward colonial lands must change. That is why the European must acknowledge the colonial’s independence an aid in the march toward self-sufficiency. Global peace and stability will be needed to facilitate this new paradigm.

The creation of a Permanent International Peace Commission will be necessary. The commission will judge international breaches of justice. The ability address grievances in a court setting will make the need for war obsolete. As part of the commission, there will be an International Council on the Condition of Darker Races. This council will ensure profit sharing between the workers and capitalist, proper education for natives, and eventual independence for the native people.

Randolph believes the desire for peace will be the ultimate motivator to accomplish this goal. World War I was so bloody on such a large scale that no one will want to endure any war ever again. If everyone wants peace, then full independence for the colonies is necessary. He extends the desired autonomy to Alsace, Lorraine, and Poland which were controlled by various European nations at that time.

Immigration

Like many other Black Empowerment Thinkers, Randolph was a restrictionist.[D] Restrictionist means a person believes jobs or government benefits should first go to United States citizens. His reasoning is complex.

1. Black immigrants rarely applied for citizenship in the early 1900’s
2. White immigrants worked to bring racist laws into the North to shut down black competition for work. Immigrants from nations that were hostile to the USA displaced black veterans in the job market.

His restrictionist stance came from the general labor dynamic of the early 1900’s. The labor unions shut out blacks. Then the union would monopolize the labor market. When the union would strike, blacks would fill the jobs left behind by the strikers. So blacks were often opposed to immigration and the unions. The racism of the labor unions led to most blacks voting Republican and most immigrants voting Democrat. The following was a quote from Randolph in 1924.

“ Instead of reducing immigration to 2% of the 1890 quota, we favor reducing it to nothing… We favor shutting out the Germans from Germany, Italians from Italy, and the Hindus from India. Negro’s from the West Indies. The country is suffering from immigrant indigestion.”[D]

It is important to note that Randolph took no stance on immigration bills after the BSCP joined the AFL. Specifically, he did not comment on the McCarran-Walter Act in 1952 or the Hart-Cellar Act in 1965.[D]

Worker relations

In a 1919 editorial in his periodical “The Messenger” he detailed his Socialist policy in an article entitled “Our Reason for Being.” Randolph explains how the interest of black and white workers are the same. Specifically, their interests are better wages, shorter hours, and better working conditions. If unions discriminate against blacks, the capitalist will have a bank of workers to use when the union workers strike. The larger the union, the more power it will have. Therefore integrating unions is only logical. He cites the Industrial Workers of the World, which was the largest union and the most powerful integrated union in the 1910’s.

Allowing Blacks in Unions will also stop the spread of communism among black people. Black radicalism was starting to spread in blacks frustrated with the slow pace of racial justice. If black people were financially stable faith would be restored in the government and society. The newfound faith in America would lead to more stability.

Proactive Politics

Randolph gave the opening speech at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. In the speech, he details how all Americans need to have full employment. Randolph hoped the march would lead to a jobs bill that would reduce national unemployment. Fair hiring practices must accompany the new jobs. He details one of the main hindrances to fair hiring practices is the need for social peace. Opponents will always claim that change will upset current workers and customers and cause a problem. Randolph expresses the need not to be afraid of conflict for the sake of advancement. Randolph demands that federal funding be contingent on compliance was the method of enforcing the new employment laws.

Randolph also makes clear that the march is just the beginning. He calls for listeners to take a pledge to take the call to resistance back home.

“ When we leave, it will be to carry on the civil rights revolution home with us into every nook and cranny of the land, and we shall return again and again to Washington in ever growing numbers until total freedom is ours” [F]

Legacy

Thomas Baker interview Randolph in 1968 on his life and legacy. The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library kept the interview. The interview recounts his dealings with presidents Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson

The first President that Randolph interacted with was F. D. Roosevelt. Randolph had scheduled the 1941 March on Washington to protest segregation in the armed forces and munitions manufacturing. World War II was underway in Europe. The United States would enter the war in December 1941 after Pearl Harbor. The US was supplying the allied war effort. Therefore munitions factories were opening all over the country. Blacks were applying and were not given jobs in munitions factories. For a group of people kept systematically poor, not being allowed in a growing industry was a real problem.

An even larger problem was segregation in the military. There was the moral issue of fighting discrimination overseas when blacks at home suffered and the practical issue of the glass ceiling for promotions for blacks. A black soldier could be in charge of a black division but nothing else. That made the dream of becoming a general unobtainable. All black people in the armed forces had feelings of resentment.

Mrs. Roosevelt was the first to reach out to Randolph to see if they could avoid having the march. The President did not want racial strife to divide the nation when any day the US could be called to help the Allies in Europe. Mrs. Roosevelt asked why had Randolph not come to the President first. After talking, Mrs. Roosevelt set up a meeting between FDR and Randolph.

F.D. Roosevelt explained that he was soon to execute Executive Order 8802 forcing the National Defense Industry to desegregate. Initially, the Executive Order only applied to government contractors. Randolph demanded the addition of federl government work. Roosevelt agreed if Randolph called off the march. Two days before the march, Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802 and it included the federal government.

Executive Order 8802 did not contain the military. Randolph and other Civil Rights leaders went to work on a national campaign to end segregation in the military. Truman agreed to meet with Randolph in either 1947 or 1948, Randolph could not remember. In the meeting, Randolph explains black were preparing to become insubordinate if the military did not desegregate. Truman did not realize the situation was that serious. Truman got to work and issued Executive Order 9981 desegregating the military.

Randolph says Eisenhower did the least of all the presidents he worked with for the cause of Civil Rights. Eisenhower was sympathetic to the black cause, but would not take public stands. Randolph did commend Eisenhower for protecting the Little Rock 9, but he could have done much more.

Randolph recounts the story of the 1963 March on Washington. Senators Javits and Douglass organized a meeting between Kennedy, Johnson, various congressmen, and Civil Rights leaders. The biggest concern was keeping the march peaceful. There had never been a demonstration of that size before. If the protest turned violent, it would be difficult to contain. The Civil Rights leaders reassured everyone they could keep control.

Johnson is the best president for Civil Rights according to Randolph. He makes sure to say that list includes Lincoln. Randolph lists Johnson’s accomplishments: Civil Rights Act of 1964, 1965, Voting Rights Act of 1967 and the Open House Occupancy Act of 1968. President Johnson is the first man that won the Presidency that received Randolph’s vote. Randolph spent most of his life as part of the Socialist Party, and Johnson was the first mainstream candidate that had his support. Randolph is confident that President Johnson would soon end the Vietnam War.

Baker asks Randolph if Dr. King and President Johnson had any animosity. Randolph says that Johnson and Dr. King had a good relationship. There was no animosity between King and Johnson.

Randolph considers himself and fellow Civil Rights activists Roy Wilkins and Andrew Young the voice of most of Black America. He grouped Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois together as Capitalist thinkers.He considered Marcus Garvey the voice of more radical separatist. He says Garvey’s Back to Africa movement will not work for the following reasons.

1. Most blacks don’t want to go back to Africa
2. Blacks don’t have enough resources to collective move back to Africa
3. Even if blacks move back to Africa, Imperialist control all the resources.

Ultimately, the Back to Africa movement was not realistic.

Sources:
Books
1. Banks, W. M. 1996, Black Intellectuals: Race and Responsibility in American Life, New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
2. Randolph, A.P 1917 and Owen, Chandler, Terms of Peace and the Darker Race, Poole Press Association (E-book version on Google Play)
Internet
A. Pfeffer, Paula F. (2000). “Randolph; Asa Philip” American National Biography Online. Oxford University Press.
B. “A look at Malcolm X as a mirror for America” New York Times 12-16-1992
Asa Philip Randolph biography on http://www.aflcio.org
C. Scott, Daryl (1999) “ Immigrant Indigestion” Center for Immigration Studies
D. Randolph, A.P. “Our Reason for Being” transcript on http://www.historymatters.gmu.edu
E. Transcript of Randolph’s 1963 March on Washington Speech found on http://www.jacksonville.com

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The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters

Asa Philip Randolph demonstrates to black leaders how to build coalitions. Randolph was also realistic about the limitations of his organization. The realization of his limitations led him to seek strategic alliances. While in these alliances he was able to keep control of his union and stay focused on his goal.

Randolph also understood that some organizations could derail his union. If he were to ally with a group that was too radical he would not only hinder the Brotherhood, he would also put many porters in danger. Randolph sought alliances with other mainstream organizations.

As most of the readers already know, Asa Philip Randolph organized The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and obtained a charter from the American Federation of Labor (AFL). He was successful in his efforts because he made strategic alliances to increase his power. An evaluation of the porter’s previous attempts to unionize will be used to demonstrate how “going it alone” is not realistic.

The first attempt to create a porter’s union was in 1890 with the Charles Sumner Association. Charles Sumner was a Senator that fought for Civil Rights. The Pullman Company threatened to fire all the porter’s and hire white replacements. The 1890 strike never happened. The second strike threat occurred in 1897, and again the company threatened to hire white replacements to stop the strike. The closest any porter got to making an appeal for higher wages was getting an editorial in a local newspaper in 1901.

The porter’s primary barrier to successful organizing was a lack of money. In the 1920’s a porter made $1,200 a year. The poverty line in the 1920’s was $1,500 a year. So most porters did not have money for savings or union dues. In addition to only making $1,200, tips composed twenty percent of the salary. As anyone that has worked for tips knows, tips fluctuate, leaving the porter in an even more precarious position.

Not having sufficient income made porter’s even more dependent on the Pullman Company. The company had a porter rule book with two hundred and seventeen rules. When that many rules are in place, every worker made numerous transgression every shift. Pullman had grounds to fire a porter at any time. In addition to not having income or job security, a porter would have a difficult time finding new employment. Pullman specifically recruited dark-skinned black people for the porter job. The job market discriminated against dark-skinned people. The loss of a porter job could be a setback that a black man would never recover.

In 1925, Randolph was selected to run the Brotherhood of Pullman Porters. His job is to finally give the porters a much-needed raise and change the rules to allow for porters to stand up to abuse. Randolph faces many of the same problems previous organizers will face. Membership fluctuates because people can not pay their dues. Instead of simply berating members, he went out to find allies with deep pockets.

Randolph sought out donations from liberal white churches. Donations from white churches keep the Brotherhood afloat for the tumultuous early years. Many of these churches were concerned with the welfare of black people. They have established wealthy membership that kept a steady stream of money flowing to the Brotherhood.

The American Federation of Labor (AFL) was another organization courted by Randolph. The AFL was the largest federation of unions at the time and had deep connections with the Democratic party. Both the AFL and the Democratic party had a long history of racism. In the North, blacks were not allowed in most unions. When unions went on strike, black workers would cross the picket line and fill the empty jobs. The AFL and Democratic party often conspired to create laws and reduce funding that would help black people as a way to retaliate.

Randolph knew that the AFL was the only union organization that could give the Brotherhood validity. Affiliation with the AFL would also give Randolph inside information on various initiatives in Congress. Most importantly the AFL could supply the Brotherhood with money in the event of a strike.

The Brotherhood received AFL affiliate status in 1929. The Brotherhood would pay the AFL $0.35 per member. A full AFL membership union only pays $0.01 per member. Many critics saw this not only as a “slap in the face,” but a poor use of scarce resources. Randolph understood that the AFL membership would be a long and arduous road. If the Brotherhood could survive this probationary period, they could obtain real government influence.

The Democratic party heavily pressured the AFL to begin to incorporate black members. The AFL had a long history of segregation in its affiliate unions. At one AFL conference, the group stated its official goal was to protect the livelihoods of native-born white men. The pressure came from the Democratic party’s need to keep control of the mayorship of many major cities, which had sharp increases in their black population. Also, the Democratic party wanted to pull membership away from third parties such as Democratic Socialists and Communists. The Democratic party could reduce the threat of a third party by being more inclusive.

Randolph garnered the most criticism for his introduction of AFL president William Green in Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church. He said Green was the second Abraham Lincoln coming to rescue the black worker from industrial bondage. Many critics used this overly enthusiastic introduction as proof Randolph was using the porters as inroads into the AFL. The AFL had a long history of excluding black people and had not allowed the porters to enter as full members.

The election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt 1932 was the jumpstart that both the Brotherhood and the AFL needed to merge. FDR instituted the National Labor Relations Act in 1935 and expanded the Railway Labor Act to include airlines. These laws set specific procedures to form a union, address grievances, and to go on strike. The introduction of a union-friendly administration increased membership in the Brotherhood of Pullman Porters. It is not a coincidence that the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters got an official charter from the AFL in 1935. Having an administration that was friendly to the cause of black liberation had substantial effects. In 1937, the Brotherhood signed a contract with the Pullman company for higher wages and improved working conditions.

Many of today’s black leaders speak of black people becoming independent. Black organizations talk about divorcing themselves from white money and white members. Historically, completely isolated organizations do not work. It would be advantageous to look at what A. Philip Randolph’s alternatives were in the fight against the Pullman Corporation.

The obvious ally would be various black organizations around at the time most notably, the black church. If all these black organizations “pooled their pennies together” they could have serious money to fight injustices. The only problem with the strategy is that all the other black organizations had similar, if not worse money problems. In fact, Pullman gave generous donations to black churches to help in the fight against the Brotherhood. The Chicago branch of the National Urban League fought against the Brotherhood because of a large Pullman donation. The National Urban League funded most of the black politicians. Therefore, many of Chicago’s black politicians were against unionization. The lack of money in the black community hurts black organizations. Most black organizations are more concerned with getting donations to stay afloat and are willing to compromise ethics to get the donations.

The Brotherhood could have enlisted wealthier members of the black community. There were some prominent members of the black community that could have provided money. However, many felt threatened by the prominence of the porter’s in the black community. The few black professionals in major cities enjoyed being the wealthiest black people in town. If the porters obtained fair wages, they could challenge their status in the community. Most black professionals were deeply invested in Orange Meme striving. They were not interested in helping others.

One could say if you were going to ally with white people at least partner with white people that were integrationist from the beginning. The biggest rival to the AFL at the time was the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). IWW was integrationist from inception in 1905. One of the founding members, Lucy Parsons, was born a slave in Texas. The IWW wanted to do away with the wage system and put workers in charge of the means of production. The IWW put itself in direct opposition to the AFL that wanted “A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.” If the Brotherhood joined IWW, they would have to challenge Pullmans validity in running the railroad.

The IWW radicalism also led to scrutiny by authorities. In 1906, the murder of an Idaho Governor implicated an IWW leader. Citizen accused IWW member of rioting in Butte, Montana in 1914. Migratory farmers were also a large part of the IWW membership. Unfortunately, migratory farmers were looked down upon and blamed for many unsolved crimes. Migratory farmers were called hobos in the 1920’s and viewed negatively by the general public. The activity that put the IWW the most at odds with the Federal government was its outspoken stance against World War I.

Many unionist believe the government systematically targeted the IWW to cause its downfall. Numerous high profile cases plagued the organization from the early 1910’s to 1920’s. By 1925, the organization was a shell of itself. The union will recover in 1960’s, but the 1920’s was a dark time for the IWW. Randolph understood what the IWW was going through and was smart to keep the Brotherhood away.

Eugene V. Debs, one of the founders of the IWW, was a hero of Randolph. Randolph wrote about Debs’ philosophy in college and his first years at “The Messenger.” Even though Randolph personally agreed with the philosophy of the IWW, including the IWW’s stance against war, he knew a partnership would not be practical. Randolph knew how to set his personal feelings aside for the good of the group.

Randolph’s life and work demonstrate effective leadership. It is a model that more black leaders should follow. He understood the limitations of his group and worked with organizations that would complement the Brotherhood. Once Randolph determined which organizations could be of service to him, he put aside his personal feelings a pursued the alliance. His efforts ultimately culminated in the first contract between a black union and a major corporation. Randolph’s pragmatism is something to admire.

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What Is a Pullman Porter?

The Pullman Porter had a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement. His official job description was to assist the passengers on the luxurious Pullman Sleeping Car. His real job was to create the black middle class and forge countless organizations. The porter is known primarily for the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, which marked the first black labor union to sign a contract with a large company. In addition to all the historical accomplishments of the union, the porter provides vital insight into the black experience.

The first point of business is explaining the Pullman Company. The Pullman Company manufactured luxury train cars for overnight travel. The Pullman Company also contracted out the crew to run the car. The crew members were called Sleeping Car Porters. The founder George Pullman began the company after having to sleep in the train chair on an overnight trip to visit relatives. He started to design a car with rooms with full-size beds called berths. Pullman also elicited help from the government to create favorable laws and obtain funding. Pullman befriended the son of Abraham Lincoln, Robert Todd Lincoln while petitioning the government. Lincoln took over the company after the death of George Pullman. Both men were fiercely anti-union regardless of the race of the members.

In the simplest terms, a Pullman Porter is equivalent to airline stewardess with far more responsibilities. A porter would greet the passenger upon entrance to the train, carry the bags, show the passengers around the car, and cater to the various needs of the passenger. Porters acted as babysitters while parents drank, nurses when the elderly passengers were sick, and safety advisors when the tracks got rocky. The porter was always available with a smile to make sure his passenger’s trip was remarkable.

Pullman preferred to hire dark-skinned, tall, thin porter’s from the American South. They needed to be tall to reach the shelves above the berths. He needed to be thin to walk by passengers in the narrow hallway without touching. Southern to be sufficiently submissive, Northern blacks were often too rowdy. The dark-skin was especially important. Dark-skin marked the division between passenger and porter. The passenger needed to see the porter, but the passenger should never be obliged to consider the porter fully human. The porter was “other,” a servant, and he wanted the passenger to see him as such.

The passengers on Sleeping Cars were known for their rambunctiousness. The Pullman Car was one of the most expensive ways to travel at the time. The liquor flowed freely on the train, so much so, that passengers often “found themselves in strangers beds.” A Pullman trip would be equivalent to a modern day cruise.

In addition to most passengers spending a significant amount of time on the journey drunk, the white passenger treated the porter with very little respect. The most notable feature of the disrespect was referring to all porters as “George.” The name harkens back to slavery when slaves received their master’s last name. Since the owner of the company was named George, all his black workers were George by default. Termination was the penalty for not answering to George. The Pullman Manual had two hundred and seventy rules. A porter could never show and any indication that he was angry or hurt by a passenger’s comment.

Even though porters were not allowed to fraternize with the passengers, many passengers made advances on the porters. Sumner Welles was Undersecretary of State in 1940. Welles was exemplary as a diplomat and was picked to succeed the current Secretary of State Cordell Hull. Welles derailed his career by getting drunk and offering a porter money for sex. The porter told superiors, and other porters said Welles made the same advances on them. Various government officials confirmed the story and Welles was not picked to be Secretary of State. A 1977 tell-all memoir was the first utterance of this story.

Not all advances were turned down. Here is a story of a young porter and a bride whose husband had to disembark early from the train. The account comes from Larry Tye’s book Rising from the Rails.

Watching her husband ride off in a covered wagon, she struck up a conversation with [A porter] “You -you know you’re the first Nig-nigger I have ever talked to. Can I? I? – believe all- believe all my mother and father have told me about you people?” she inquired hesitatingly, with a peculiar smile. Her remarks flashed through my mind, bringing with them thing the boys had told me that white people say about niggahs, and I realized what she was suggesting. It’s sure hard to make white people believe that what they say might be true about some of us, but not about the whole race. Still, as the legend is to our advantage, I left my work for an hour, so that it shouldn’t die with me.

Not all white and black interchanges were agreeable. The porter had to find ways to protect himself that did violate company rules. Larry Tye recounts a story from The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Malcolm X worked for a few years as a Pullman Porter before turning to a life of crime and later conversion to Islam.

I remember that once, when some passengers complaints had gotten me a warning, and I wanted to be careful, I was working down the aisle and a big, beefy, red-faced cracker soldier got up in front of me, so drunk he was weaving and announced loud enough that everybody in the car heard him, “I’m going to fight you nigger.” I remember the tension, I laughed and told him, “Sure, I’ll fight, but you’ve got too many clothes on.” He had on a big Army overcoat. He took that off, and I kept laughing and said he still had on too many. I was able to keep that cracker stripping off clothes until he stood there drunk with nothing on from his pants up, and the whole car was laughing at him, and some other soldiers got him out of the way. I went on. I never would forget that – that I couldn’t have whipped that white man as badly with a club as I had with my mind.”

Relations between blacks on the train was also interesting. Because porters had to suppress their anger toward passengers they often lashed out against each other. Often porters would accuse other porters of “cooning.” Cooning is acting overly obliging to get bigger tips. A charge of cooning could come from having too big a smile for too long or the egregious dancing for customer’s amusement. Ultimately, all the porters had to compromise their pride to work for the Pullman company. An arbitrary line separates following orders and cooning. Cooning was always something the other guy did.

The other large part of the Pullman crew was the kitchen staff. To keep with plantation tradition, the kitchen workers were normally light skinned. Often porters would say waiters were soft and did not work hard. Many people will say that this is a remnant of anger from the plantation hierarchy. Light-skinned slaves, commonly descendant of the master, got “easier” jobs in the house. I think that the animosity between porters and kitchen staff was just another way to expel suppressed anger from passenger’s behavior.

Ultimately, kitchen staff and porters worked together. Kitchen staff would save scraps to make stew. Porters would keep an eye out for empty berths to allow the cooks and waiters to get a good night’s sleep. The kitchen staff could easily sneak out before the passengers awakened. In the end, both kitchen staff and porter were on the same team. If they did not work together, they would sink together.

I will detail the formation of The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in later blog posts. As of now, I will say the contract between Pullman Company and The Brotherhood will be the first time and all black union will force a major company to sign a contract. The victory catapults Brotherhood President A. Philip Randolph to national acclaim. He uses his fame to make the National Negro Congress, which is a militant alternative to the NAACP. The National Negro Congress folds due to internal conflict. He learns many leadership lessons from the organization and begins a campaign to desegregate the government and military.

To rally support, Randolph rallies crowds around the idea of a March on Washington. Originally, Randolph was going to get 10,000 people to demonstrate in Washington, DC. Once he started relaying the idea to crowds across the country people from all over the nation and of all political persuasions. Randolph officially set the date of the march on June 27, 1941.

Franklin D. Roosevelt did not want a public demonstration at this time. FDR was attempting to gain support for joining in the fight in World War II. He was also afraid that communist would cause a disturbance in the rally and put American race relations on a world stage. FDR met with Randolph to come to a compromise that would allow for Randolph to call off the march. The result was Executive Order 8802 which desegregated the defense industry government and contractor. Two days before the March on Washington 1941 was to happen it was called off.

Randolph does not just fold up shop and go home. He expands the March on Washington Movement. He builds a March on Washington headquarters in all major American cities. The March on Washington protest take place all over the country for twenty years, and it causes change at the local level. On the national level, the March on Washington Movement forced Truman to sign Executive Order 9981, finally desegregating the military. The last March on Washington was in 1963. Dr. King’s gives his “I Have A Dream” speech at this rally.

Dr. King owes much of his career to Randolph and Ed Nixon. Ed Nixon was President of the Montgomery Branch of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Because Nixon was running the Brotherhood and various Montgomery political organization, Ed Nixon recommends Dr. King to run the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The boycott lasts for over a year. Dr. King proves to Nixon he has potential and Nixon introduces him to Randolph. Randolph and his team gave Dr. King the tutelage he needed to lead the movement.

In addition to providing an organizational template and leaders, the Brotherhood provided funding for various organizations in the Civil Rights Movement. Randolph’s motto was, “ Whoever pays the piper calls the tune.” For a black organization to be truly independent, it had to be funded by black people. Malcolm X echoes the same sentiment in later years. Randolph would often invite Malcolm to his personal residence to tell him stories of the Harlem’s socialist movement and talk about politics. A. Philip Randolph and other black leaders including Elijah Muhammad started blacks down the road to self-determination.

The Pullman Porter has a dubious legacy in the minds of Black America. On the one hand, they had a servile role and had to take abuse without fighting back directly. On the other hand, they laid the foundation for the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. I feel the Pullman Porter is the ultimate symbol of the black middle class. Often we work in jobs in which we are under-utilized and treated with disrespect. Not to the same extent as the porter, but disrespect nonetheless. We do that to support the aspirations of our family and those that want to fight white supremacy directly. The fight against white supremacy takes many forms. Blacks have to utilize many methods to fight it. The porter was one of the most cunning soldiers in this battle.

The information for this blog post comes from Larry Tye’s book Rising From The Rails

For more information on the Pullman Porters please vist the official museum. HERE

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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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