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Black Leadership Analysis

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

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Leader Analysis

Dopebusters Drug Patrols

In the Spring of 1965, The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology published a work on the threat of the Nation of Islam (NOI) to the police. A summary of the NOI of Islam beliefs was given. The religion centers on the idea that the ruling white man is destined for a fall. The members do see whites as the devil, but G-d has predetermined the end of the white man’s rule. Blacks are to separate and become an independent state before the fall to avoid catastrophe. So the movement has no reason to attack the police directly. The NOI was deemed not to be a direct threat to the police as a whole. The security/militia force Fruit of Islam (FOI) my resist police in small incidence, but there was no rebellion planned.

The reputation of the Fruit of Islam grows from the 1960s to the 1980s and residents at the Mayfair Mansions take notice. Violence and the drug trade had enveloped the community that was now nicknamed “Little Beiruit.” The Nation of Islam begins selling their paper in the complex and residents notice the drug dealers leave while the NOI was present. A group of concerned citizens asked the Nation of Islam to patrol the area to stop drug dealers. Abdul Alim Muhammad, leader of DC’s Mosque #4, agreed and the “Dopebusters” were born in 1988.

Police Chief, Maurice Turner, reluctantly agrees to work with the NOI Drug Patrols. The story of the Dopebusters drew national attention and continued violence at the Mayfair would draw negative attention to the city. Council members and many constituents in the Mayfair publically supported the effort. Turner decided that the NOI would only patrol and call authorities when they saw something. The guards were not to use any violence.

The problem in District 6, which included the Mayfair, was a small police presence. They had 235 officers patrolling the district, which led to the smallest ratio of officers to residents. [2] Because of increased attention from media, the chief agreed to concentrate his force at the Mayfair.[3] So those that used to deal at the Mayfair moved to neighboring housing projects.[3] The citizens at the Mayfair were grateful to have peace in their neighborhood, and they praised the guards for granting them peace. The NOI was allowed to fly their flag over the projects, as the Islamic Caliphs did in the old days. [3]

On April 19, 1988, a man with a shotgun confronted an NOI guard. The guard disarms the man by kicking the gun out of his hand. Ten men proceed to beat the man unconscious. An NBC news team catches the melee on film. The guards see that they are being recorded and began to attack the cameraman to ensure the footage is not aired on television. One of the guards was arrested along with the man that welded the shotgun. The story made headlines and Mosque #4 had to issue an apology. Residents of the Mayfair picketed in support of the guards. [17]

Dr. Alim Muhammad gave a press conference on April 30, 1988. Accompanying him were hundreds of supporters of the Nation of Islam patrols. In the speech, Alim Muhammad chastised the media in elevating the one instance of overreach, and not the fact they ended open-air drug sales in less than a month. He invites Christians, Jews, and fellow Muslims to join in the Patrols because they would soon expand to Paradise Manor. The most inflammatory aspect of the speech was the accusation that many police were involved in drug sales. This accusation that could not be proven hurt the ability of the security forces to work with the police.

The beating of a news crew was not the only instance of overreach. An apartment building manager accused the guards of attempting to extort $5,000 from her company.[6] However, the NOI guards would find other ways to finance their patrol in the way of government contracts.

The success from Mayfair made FOI guards a hot commodity in many low-income housing areas. The NOI Security Agency – Washington was incorporated in 1990 to win government contracts in security. In the same manner, other NOI security agencies emerged in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The DC agency expanded its patrol to Clifton Terrace and Potomac Gardens.

The Clifton Terrace Patrols began in May of 1992. Most of the residents supported the new patrols. However, there was also vocal opposition. A group of men threatened the guards with violence on May 5. In response, a guard allegedly attacked resident James Earl Keech. Later that day, the unarmed guards encountered gunfire. Police were slow to arrive but arrested Taino M. Granum who had a stolen gun on his person. The event shows how cooperation between police and the guards began to break down. Both sides gave different accounts to the police. The public housing authority ended the security contract a short time later.

The American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) both took issue with an anti-semitic group getting government contracts. The ADL published a report in 1995 detailing contract discrepancies in the NOI security contracts. The ADL claimed that the NOI security agencies were directly connected to the NOI. Most of the evidence in the report came from the NOI newsletter, <u>The Final Call</u>. In the paper, the NOI praises the work of the security agencies as a victory for the Nation of Islam as a whole.

The report sparked outrage from the public. Bob Dole and Peter King, both Republicans, launch a senate investigation. If the security firm violated procurement law, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) would have to terminate the contracts. Peter King wanted the NOI listed as a hate group even though the American Civil Liberties Union did not list them as such.

HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros defended the decision to award NOI security firms contracts. Many members of The Congressional Black Caucus also supported the NOI effort. The firms were not legally linked to the Nation of Islam religious organization, and to Cisneros’ knowledge, the guards did not proselytize on duty. Therefore to deny them contracts would be religious discrimination. It is important to remember the Republicans had recently won both houses.

The six-week investigation concluded in March of 1995. There was no evidence of large-scale proselytizing while guards were on duty and the investigation confirmed the security firms were not linked to the Nation of Islam. There was also no evidence that the firms discriminated against non-Muslims or women. Most of the interviews with residents of the areas the security firms patrolled said the guards are more courteous than other private guards. Residents, white and black, both agreed their neighborhoods were markedly safer.

After the investigation Nation of Islam security wins a contract to patrol Potomac Gardens. The original contract was awarded under emergency conditions for two weeks at $30,000. Again most residences wanted the guards, but there was also strong opposition. One woman interviewed by the Washington Post said that she shielded a man from an NOI beating. The guards yelled “Black Power, Black Power” after the incident. [109]

On May 12, 1995 NOI guard James Baldwin was allegedly stabbed in the chest by resident Paul Sparks. The event was the third violent event during the two weeks Potomac Gardens had a patrol. Earlier an NOI guard was struck with a bottle. The guards retaliate by assaulting a resident suspected of throwing the bottle. The incidents sparked City Council to visit the project.

During the visit Councilman Frank Smith had this to say:

“There’s no question about the fact that the people who live over there see this as a form of relief from the drug sales…The sale of drugs around public housing complexes is ultimately a police problem, and it will not be solved in a lasting way at Potomac Gardens or anywhere else until a new police division responsible for public housing is created”.[112]

After the City Council visited they decide to extend the emergency contract another two weeks. The guards did stop open-air drug sales, even with a few instances of over-reach. By June 6, the emergency contract would end and the NOI would need to win the contact under normal bidding circumstances. Unfortunately, the Nation of Islam Security Agency flies for bankruptcy protection in June of 1995. The firm claims $620,000 in assets and $760,000 in liabilities. Of the liabilities, $53,000 was back taxes to Washington, DC. The DC Housing Authority had to take into account NOI Security’s financial state during the contract bid, and they lost their bid.

The Potomac Garden patrol was taken up by off-duty police officers. The officers were paid overtime with the same Federal funds that would have been used for the private guards. Ultimately, the responsibility for reducing crime fell back on the police. With increased police presence, the crime problem in Washington, DC subsided.

Sources for Dopebusters Articles

Dr. Abdul Alim Muhammad

Accomplishments

  • Graduated Case Western Reserve Medical School in 1975
  • Paratroper in military
  • Minister of Mosque #4  in Washington, DC 1981
  • National Spokesman for Louis Farrakhan 1988
  • Nation of Islam’s First Minister of Health 1992
  • Mayor of Washington, DC declared a day in his honor
  • Has a wife, Alima, and nine children including Kush Amir, Ajane, and Kadira

Dr. Abdul Alim Muhammad was born Maurice Peters Jr near York, Pennsylvania in 1948. From the beginning, Dr. Muhammad and his family were socially conscious. He went to an NAACP convention in Harrisburg, PA at age 6. Muhammad’s father Maurice Peterson Sr organized a protest against police brutality. The family was also involved in the Civil Rights Movement and marched with King. However, racism hit Muhammad in a personal way while going to an all-white high school at age 15.

Maurice Peters Sr was a post office worker. He saved enough money to move his family to the all-white suburb of Shiloh, PA. The whites of the area organized to keep the family out. Their plot was to harass his children to intimidate Mr. Peters into returning to York. One of the black maids in York got wind of the plot and warned them. When the Peterson family arrived, white residents blocked their moving van and demanded they leave. Undeterred Mr. Peterson entered the neighborhood in which he lived until the day he died.

Once Muhammad began coursework at the local high school, his grades fell from straight A’s to C’s and D’s. His parents thought he was not applying himself. When confronted, Muhammad said maybe he is not as smart as everyone thought. Upon hearing that his parents had to get to the bottom of the situation. His parents began reviewing his work and found he got most of the questions marked wrong were correct. After taking the corrected test to the principal, the school changed his grades. After this incident, Muhammad always questioned authority, not his ability.

Due to his intellectual ability and support from his parents, he made grades high enough to win a scholarship at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. His original major was poetry. When in college, he was introduced to the philosophy of Elijah Muhammad and wanted to change his major to something that would aid his people in the fight against oppression. He became a Biology / Pre-med major.

After receiving a degree in biology, Case Western Reserve Medical School accepted him in 1975. Muhammad told the Washington Post none of the fourteen blacks that enrolled in the program that year wanted a “Beverly Hills” style practice. All wanted to serve the urban community. While in college, one of his fellow black students faced expulsion because of grades. Muhammad and others were able to organize to keep the student in college.

Muhammad first heard Farrakhan speak in 1974, while in college. After meeting and interacting for a short time, Farrakhan appointed Muhammad assistant minister of Mosque #18 in Cleveland. Once Muhammad graduated, he went to Harlem University Hospital to work as a surgeon. While working in Harlem Muhammad officially changed his name from Maurice X to Muki Fuad Muhammad El-Amin. Farrakhan changed his name to Abdul Alim Muhammad before granting the position of Minister of Mosque #4 in Washington, DC in 1981.

Howard University Hospital and Washington Hospital Center both employed Muhammad for a short period, but Muhammad realized his passion was alternative medicine. He founded Abundant Life Clinic in 1986. The medical approach of the clinic was community-centered, alternative medicine. Muhammad infused Ayurvedic medicine and Yoga into treatment plans. Abundant Life’s drug rehab became nationally known, and Farrakhan’s son Joshua received treatment there. The clinic was the first step in a national black health agenda. From his work at Abundant Life, he became the NOI’s first Minister of Health in 1992.

The Dopebuster’s drug program began in 1988 at Mayfair Mansions. The program was initiated at the request of residents to calm the drug activity that got the complex nicknamed “Little Beirut.” Because the Dopebuster mostly came from Mosque #4, Dr. Muhammad was the unofficial spokesman. The need for a spokesman came on the first day when guards beat a man that approached them welding a shotgun. Not only did the guards assault the man wielding the shotgun, but they also attacked a news-crew filming the beating.

During the press conference created to answer questions on the incident, Dr. Muhammad charged the police department for orchestrating drug sales. The charge was doubling down on comments he made during a radio interview earlier in the week. Muhammad presented no evidence during the interview or press conference. Dr. Muhammad never named any specific policemen. A police spokesman denied the charge. There were never any formal charges brought against the police by the NOI or Dr. Muhammad.

Steny Hoyer first became a Congressional Representative in 1981. His district, Maryland’s fifth, housed in Prince Georges County had a 50% Black population. Because the area had a large black population, Muhammad thought he could have a chance to unseat the incumbent. The campaign was launched in the summer of 1990.

Part of Muhammad’s platform was government funding for the NOI’s Dopebuster’s initiative that had recently spread nationwide. Muhammad was able to gather a respectable following amongst working-class blacks, due to incendiary rhetoric. According to the Washington Post, Muhammad said that white politicians were “slave masters of a white-run political machine” and Prince Georges County was “plantation politics at its worst.” He also said blacks are no more free in America than Apartheid South Africa. Muhammad accused the media of obsessing on his affiliation with the Nation of Islam, but opened his speeches with the Muslim greeting “Al-salam aleikum.” Critics brought up the fact he did not live in the fifth district and only registered to vote a few months before running.

Unfortunately, the Alim Muhammad campaign only raised $35,000. Aid from Farrakhan never materialized. The Nation of Islam leader canceled his appearance at three campaign events. Hoyer was able to raise $230,000, and $115,000 of it was spent on television ads, Muhammad had no chance. Hoyer had a solid lock on PG’s white vote and a respectable track record on black issues. Muhammad only got 20% of the vote on the September 11 primary.

In the summer of 1992, Washington DC city councilman Henry Thomas purposed making a day to honor Dr. Abdul Alim Muhammad. The one Jewish member of the council, Jim Nathanson, opposed the resolution. The resolution was moved to committee which ensured the bill would die. The mayor, Sharon Pratt Kelly, took up the cause. The Washington Post accused her of pandering to poor and working-class blacks by approving the resolution. No matter what the motivation July 11, 1992, was declared Dr. Abdul Alim Muhammad day by the mayor.

Prostate Cancer awareness is another point of advocacy for Dr. Muhammad because he also suffered from the disease. His prostate cancer diagnosis at age 36 was surprising because Muhammad was a vegetarian with no history of cancer in his family. He became a member and spokesman for the Empowerment Network, a group dedicated to spreading awareness about prostate cancer in the black community. His knowledge and personal experience became necessary when Louis Farrakhan afflicted with the disease in 1999. Muhammad served by informing the public on Farrakhan’s condition and helping chose the best hospital for the surgery, Howard University Hospital.

In 2010, Dr. Muhammad became part of a joint effort to provide earthquake relief to Haiti. The Church of Scientology and The Nation of Islam came together to improve the life of those hardest hit by the earthquake. The specific role of Dr. Muhammad was to provide wound care. He also documented the earthquake relief program in a personal blog.

Dr. Alim is currently practicing nutritional medicine in Bowie, MD. He makes few public appearances.

Sources

Dr. Abdul Alim Muhammad Series

Dr. Abdul Alim Muhammad

Dopebusters Drug Patrols

Essay on Untouchability II: Social Undergirding of Caste

When most social analysts study India, they see the chief division as religion, Hindu vs. Muslim. However, it is also essential to understand caste divisions. These divisions are recognized by those that practice all the religions of India. Those in the lower caste, namely: primitive tribes, criminal tribes, and untouchables make up 60% of the population or 79.5 million people. Since the caste system is disenfranchising a larger number of people than the population of Japan, one cannot ignore the division.

As stated early, the lower or avarna castes: primitive tribes, criminal tribes, and the untouchables are unique on the subcontinent. Primitive tribes exist in the wilderness of India, living a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. The criminal tribes earn their name by raiding neighboring villages and committing assisinations. One clan called the Pindharies can muster up to 20,000 in Calvary. The clan of hired assassins is called, The Thugs. The government considers their acts legitimate business, and they pay taxes. Untouchables live observing Hindu culture and law. However, touching them would pollute a Hindu and require him to be cleansed at a temple.

Of the three avarna castes, Untouchables are the only group that has a social condition that cannot be changed. If a member of the primitive or criminal tribes decides to leave his group and enter Hindu society, they would be welcomed with open arms. An Untouchable could become the leader in his industry and would still cause a Hindu to be polluted. Therefore, Untouchable has a unique struggle in society. Ambedkar uses the analogy that Hindus relate to untouchables as a man relates to his shoes. Untouchables are just a means to an end.

The idea of caste causes separation in marriage, dining, and occupation. The specifics of the Caste System has changed as evidenced by records of foreign travelers to India. At the time of publishing of the treatise, Gandhi wanted Untouchables added to the least powerful caste, Shudra (Laborer). The Untouchables would not have permission to change occupations. The only difference would be, they would not pollute a person of a higher caste.

Aside from the fact that Hinduism promotes the caste system, the religion is also invalid because the highest form of religious experience is trance. It is absurd to think an abnormal psychological condition produced by artificial means is the sign of enlightenment. Trance (Samadhi) was just another aspect of Hindu metaphysics that prevented the population from moving toward rationalism. It is rationalism that will advance society and end discrimination.

Caste is a social order made sacred by the religion of Hinduism and enforced by Hindu law. The laws supporting caste are as old as antiquity, but they were rarely invoked. The laws supporting caste ended in 1850 with the Caste Disabilities Removal Act. The Caste system stayed intact despite not having legal bases. The fact the caste system survived without legal undergirding shows that religion served as the caste system’s base.

Hinduism was exceptionally robust in enforcing caste because it was a religion of a book without a prophet. Ambedkar defines his position by referencing Professor Max Muller’s work on classifying religions as natural vs. revealed. In the natural category, he groups the religion of aboriginal people such as Iroquois. The natural faiths classify objects and people as sacred or taboo and don’t use a personified being as supreme. The revealed religions are those that have a book revealed by a prophet. In the revealed camp, one would find most of the Abrahamic religions and Zoroastrianism. The Vedas are Hinduism holy book, but a prophet did not reveal them to the worshipers. Therefore the credibility of the book cannot be questioned by attacking the character or historical validity of a prophet.

The Caste System occupied a scared space in Hinduism. No other religion deemed any social order sacred. There have been those that have fought against the system such as the Buddha and King Vishvamitra. Yet the idea has persisted. Most religions consider economic activity outside the purview of religion. Combining religious/ social and economic disadvantage was a dangerous combination.

Ambedkar objected to Gandhi’s proportion that caste was the ideal form of society. In fact, caste is not founded on the cooperation of various professions, but their antagonism and class war. To justify his position, Ambedkar uses allegories from sacred Hindu texts that show that Kshatriya and Brahmin had a bloody civil war over the right to perform sacrifices. Bloody conflict is the inevitable result of the Caste System.

Elder Lightfoot Solomon Michaux Series

Introduction

Michaux: Father of Churches

Presidents, Prophecy, and Patronage

G-d’s Role For Black People

Michaux’s Real Estate and Government Aide

Sources for All Articles

  1. Sparks From the Anvil by Solomon Michaux 1950 Vintage Press
  2. About My Fathers Business: The Life of Elder Michaux by Lillian Ashcroft Webb 1981 Greenwood Press
  3. “Michaux the Prophet” by Lillian Ashcroft Web
  4. Elder Lightfoot Solomon Michaux: His Social and Political Interest and Influence by Lillian Aschcroft Poe 1975
  5. Newspaper Articles
  6. https://gospelspreadingchurch.org/
  7. https://www.thechurchofgodatwilliamsburg.org/blackhistory.htm

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.

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

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