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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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Civil Rights Movement

Solomon Michaux

November 07, 1884 to October 20, 1968

Notable Events

  • Founded the Gospel Spreading is Church of God
  • Hosted gospel radio show “Happiness Hour”
  • Coordinate with FBI to undermine Martin Luther King
  • Erected a monument for Negro Progress
  • Secured federally subsides housing called Mayfair Mansions
  • Credited for song “Happy Am I”
  • Pioneer in television and radio ministry
  • Real Estate Mogul
  • First Preacher to have his own TV show

Solomon Michaux was born in Newport News on November 7, 1884. His father owned a grocery that young Solomon would work in his younger years. Luckily, Solomon inherited his father’s business savvy and in 1906 he was able to land a government contract to supply the local defense department with groceries.

With the success from his early business venture, he was able to move him and his young wife Mary Eliza to Hopewell, VA. There he and a colleague founded Everybody’s Mission in 1917. The mission was affiliated with the Church of Christ which ordained him. Those tent revivals proved Michaux’s ability as an evangelist.

In 1919, Michaux founded the Gospel Spreading Church of God. This stout bible believing church that thought segregation had no place in the house of the lord. In 1929, Michaux and other congregants were arrested for having an integrated church service. After a short stint in jail Michaux was released with more religious zeal than ever. He went on to found seven more churches.

The revivals of the Church of God were mostly integrated. Michaux was one of the most popular preachers in the country. One revival in Berlin, PA was attended by 10,000 white men. The Washington Evening Star referred to him as a national power. He even packed DC’s Major League Baseball Stadium in 1951. So in many ways he was a pioneer in integration of worship.

Michaux’s business acumen was not satisfied with spreading the gospel. He embarked on a massive real estate venture in Virginia in 1936. At its peak, it encompassed 1,100 acres in a farmers co-op. The goal was to create cooperative complex that would have hundreds of five-acre farms black people could buy. It would be a stand-alone municipality with administration buildings, museums, schools, and entertainment. A monument to the Negro’s loyalty to the white man would be at the entrance. The project was never fully successful, but black farmers operated a few of the farms until early 2000.

His prominence as a church founder lead opportunities to spread the “good news” in many different forms. WJSV of Alexandria Va broadcast a gospel show “Happiness Hour” with Michaux as the host. The show was so successful it expanded to 50 CBS affiliates. His ultimate gospel broadcasting was a television show on the DuMont Television Network from 1947 to 1949. It was one of the first broadcasts hosted by a black man.

Michaux’s show was known for the jazzy gospel tunes such as “Happy Am I”. The show was upbeat and designed to improve the mood of a person going through hardship. A person was to serve G-d through being happy no matter what their circumstances.

A patriotic conservative pro-establishment theology undergrided Michaux’s show and preaching style. As a result of the conservative ideology Michaux came to oppose the March on Washington in 1963 and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. He also lauded FBI director J. Edgar Hoover as a soldier of G-d. Martin Luther King was accused of being godless and a Communist stooge. G-d ordained the current order and man should not interfere with the divine order.

The “Happiness Hour” was popular in black America. However, blacks began to sour on Michaux after two public stunts. The first was an open letter 1964 lauding Hoover and demonizing King. In traditional fashion,Michaux defends the current order and those, like Hoover, work to preserve it. In the letter, Michaux praises the FBI’s work to find perpetrators of violence toward blacks and whites. King is characterized as a rabble-rouser causing more harm than good. Most of the black press defended King against Michaux and he began to loose popularity.

The last straw was Michaux’s protest against the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1965. The Baltimore conference was protested by more than 100 Church of G-d members. Black America viewed this protest as largely staged and saw Michaux as a puppet.

Washington, DC owes much of its history to Solomon Michaux. In addition, to owning the “Happy Times” restaurant, he was instrumental in the founding of Mayfair Mansions. This housing development was the only Federally subsidized middle-class housing development in the country. Opening in 1946 , Mayfair Mansions was declared a National Historic Site in 1989.

A stroke claimed Michaux’s life in 1968. Three thousand people attended his funeral. He was loved regionally in the DC area. But nationally he was seen as a sell-out. As the late 1960s made black liberation more militant and conservative preachers were seen as race traitors. Eventually, Michaux faded into obscurity.

Due to a freedom of information act request in 2017, it was discovered that Michaux was part of a FBI program to influence clergy. The landmark work of Lerone Martin was first published in Religion and Politics Fit for Polite Company and Religion and American Culture details Michaux’s role in the FBI plot. The story was also reported in the New York Times and Kolumn Magazine. These articles brought Michaux’s name back from obscurity.

The FBI realized religion is an important tool in social justice. Therefore, those that promoted a theology that supported the status quo needed to be promoted. The Bureau commission clergymen of many faiths and races to promote a conservative political agenda. Solomon Michaux was one of those pastors. His ability at evangelizing through television and radio made him a stand-out. His blackness validated the conservative theology in a way a white pastor could not. The fact a black man agreed that no social movement or change is needed meant that his life and social circle nobody was suffering.

Now it is important to realize Michaux actually was a conservative Christian. His theology before he began working for the bureau in 1939 was also conservative. He believed the Bible did not sanction segregation or discrimination. However, the black man as a group does exist at a lower state. Slavery was one mechanism to civilize black people and bring them up to par with with whites. Segregation and current discrimination was just part of that process. Because Michaux had this philosophy the Bureau recruited him for collaboration.

In Michaux’s theology, the races will only integrate with Jesus comes into the heart of all individuals. The primary unit of social change is the individual. So any attempts to force change on people was outside the will of G-d. All movements for social change including the Civil Rights Movement could only be led by godless communist.

Analysis

To call Michaux a sell-out or Uncle Tom would be too easy. In Spiral Dynamics terminology, he is a Blue Meme Upper Left Reductionist. He sees the entire problem of segregation stemming from individual moral failings. King took a four quadrants approach. Upper Left represented by his spiritual growth. Upper Right represented by Nonviolent Direct Action. Lower Left represented by the foundations and philosophy of the various organizations started by King. The Lower Left represented by the left-wing policies he pursued.

Another difference between King and Michaux was what they believed caused the present racial hierarchy. King believed the present racial hierarchy was the result of the “fall of man”. Michaux saw it as a result of G-d’s divine providence. So both men saw integration as an positive end, but Michaux believed the current situation was needed to develop black people.

Key Take-Aways

Christianity like all other religions is neutral in the fight for social justice. What makes a religion a force in the fight is the way it is interpreted. Giving spiritual leaders a proper political education and political leaders a proper spiritual education is key in proper leadership. The two fields can’t be separated. The general public must understand how all these elements factor into their ability to obtain freedom.

Sources

  1. https://www.thechurchofgodatwilliamsburg.org/eldermichaux.htm
  2. https://www.encyclopedia.com/african-american-focus/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/michaux-solomon-lightfoot
  3. https://blackpast.org/aah/michaux-elder-solomon-lightfoot-c-1885-1968
  4. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/02/us/black-evangelist-elder-michaux-opposed-dr-king.html
  5. https://religionandpolitics.org/2018/04/03/new-documents-reveal-how-the-fbi-deployed-a-televangelist-to-discredit-martin-luther-king/
  6. http://www.kolumnmagazine.com/2018/04/05/black-evangelist-opposed-dr-king-new-york-times/
  7. “Bereau Clergyman: How the FBI Colluded with and African American Televangelist to Destroy Martin Luther King” by Lerone Martin Religion and American Culture Winter 2018 Cambridge University Press
  8. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/mlks-speech-attracted-fbis-intense-attention/2013/08/27/31c8ebd4-0f60-11e3-8cdd-bcdc09410972_story.html?utm_term=.667499fc9dde

Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Resolution

The first attempt to resolve the bus boycott happened on December 7, 1955. City leaders met with members of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA). MIA listed their demands as:

  1. Guarantee of courteous treatment
  2. Passenger seated on a first come first serve basis
  3. Employment of black bus drivers on routes that had mostly black people

The city leaders explained they could not meet the demands because the city can’t change state segregation law. Also, the bus drivers were unionized, and they could not fire the current drivers without a backlash. One of the city leaders admitted that they could not let black people feel that they won something over whites. The meeting adjourns with no resolution.

MIA decided to go around the city government. A private company out of Minnesota, National City Lines owned the Montgomery bus lines. That company owned and operated buses in several cities that were segregated and unsegregated. King wrote a letter explaining MIA’s position. The company responds by dispatching a vice-president and two other officials to Montgomery.

A second meeting commenced on December 12, 1955. MIA realized that demanding black drivers to be hired was not feasible. The third demand was changed to accepting applications from black bus drivers. When a vacancy arose, the company should hire a black driver. The next meeting had three representatives from the bus company, a mayoral delegation that included two black people, the mayor, and leaders from MIA.

Once the meeting started the vice president of the bus company sided with the mayor in favor of segregation. The stance of the VP surprised King because he seemed sympathetic to MIA’s cause during phone conversations. The mayor proposes that a small delegation be created to arrive at an agreeable compromise. The proposed delegation would have ten members, seven from the mayoral committee that included two black people and three members of MIA. Of course, MIA would not agree to this. The group settled on ten members of the mayoral committee including the two black people invited by the mayor and six MIA members.

The mayoral committee purposed that the buses have the first two rows of the bus reserved for whites and the last two for blacks. There would be a sign denoting both sections. Neither race could have more than eight seats reserved at any time. The middle seats would be temporarily occupied until the a passenger of another race comes in and needs the seat.

MIA, of course, rejected this proposal. Having racial signs on the bus would be humiliating. It was a step backward. One of the attendees proposed they reconvene after Christmas. The mayor committee recommends MIA call off the boycott as a sign of goodwill. Neither resolution was passed.

They reconvened on December 19, 1955, but meeting ended in a giant argument. The mayoral committee accused King of being obstructionist. The mayoral committee tried to pit the leaders from Montgomery against King who was from Atlanta. Ralph Abernathy stood in defense of King.

On January 22, 1956, The Montgomery Adviser was set to publish an article that said a settlement had been reached. The supposed multi-racial committee agreed that the bus would have a white section reserved in the front, black section reserved in the back, and an all black rush hour bus. The article was set to run the following day.

King had to get to work quickly to get the word out that the story was fake. He also had to find out if some MIA members or other black preachers had undermined the group. All MIA ministers had to tell their congregations that the boycott was still on and the article was fake. King set out Saturday night to tell the black folks that frequent bars and night clubs. The article was set to release Monday. All of black Montgomery continued the boycott next week. All the ministers in Montgomery denied cutting a deal with the mayor.

Now that a resolution could not be agreed to outside of court, the only thing left was a federal lawsuit. The case went to the district court on May 11, 1956. In a 2 -1 decision the court declared that bus segregation was unconstitutional. The city official appealed to the Supreme Court.

The city filed a motion calling the carpool created as an alternative to the bus was illegal. A grand jury indicted 100 people including Dr. King for conspiracy to sabotage a business. There was a separate case to determine if the carpool was unlawful.

So November 12, 1956, is special for two reasons. The first is the city was granted the injunction to outlaw carpool. The second was Supreme Court ruled that bus segregation is unconstitutional.

Even after the court ended segregation, the white citizens of Montgomery did not stop. The Ku Klux Klan rode that night in the black section of town. However, this time the black people were not afraid. No one shut themselves inside; they continued as if no one is there. The KKK left in disillusion.

The city of Montgomery had one month to comply with the Supreme Court decision. King begins by giving classes on how to interact on the new integrated bus. He encourages his congregational to act in love even after the victory. Never rub the fact you can sit anywhere in the face of white people. Try to sit in empty rows and avoid sitting by whites. No white church or organization was willing to educate their members on how to interact on the new integrated bus.

The White Citizen Council threatened violence if buses were integrated. On December 20, 1956, the integration order hit Montgomery. Eight days later a reign of terror ensued. White supremacists fired on city buses. Two black women were assaulted leaving the bus. The house and church of King’s best friend and adviser Ralph Abernathy were bombed. The city council contemplated dissolving the bus system.

Seven white men were arrested for a bombing conspiracy on January 31, 1957. After the arrests, city leaders determined that the bus system was now safe. A sense of normalcy was restored in the city, and the MIA was allowed to embark on new projects.

King ended the book with a list of projects to further integrate Montgomery. The plans include the city parks, minor league baseball team, and schools. He is optimistic and believes the city is changing. However, those that want justice have to keep persevering.

Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Conflict

The book began in January 1954. Dr. King was in Boston working on his Ph.D. thesis. He was newly married to a woman he met in Boston from Marion, AL, Coretta Scott. They were looking to move back to help in the fight against segregation. Many churches from all over the country were vying to make King their pastor. However, an offer from Dexter Ave Baptist Church in Montgomery, AL could not be refused.

Montgomery was known as the cradle of the Confederacy. Birmingham hosted the inauguration of Jefferson Davis and the served as the Confederacy’s first capital. A system of segregation that kept them out of critical industries stifled the economic development of black people in the town. The one exception was an integrated Army base. Montgomery was also home to an HBCU, Alabama State University.

Various human rights organizations planted the first seeds of integration. One of the integrationist groups was the Alabama Council on Human Relations. The council was interracial and focused on educating whites on the plight of blacks. There was also the NAACP which worked to bring court cases to make integration illegal. Many saw the goals of these two groups as opposed. However, King saw that the law could constrain individuals until education could enlighten them. Therefore he united these and other Alabama civil rights groups into the Citizens Coordinating Committee.

The first rumblings of a bus boycott came with the Fall 1955 arrest of Claudette Colvin. The teenager was not only arrested for refusing to give up her seat but was assaulted by the police while being arrested. The boycott never materialized because of disorganization in the various civil rights organizations. Black people also feared retaliation for speaking out. It became apparent that King had to build public consensus.

December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for not giving her seat up to a white person on a city bus. The Women’s Political Council which Rosa Park led was the first to call for a boycott. Leaders from the various organizations agreed to take action. Fliers are printed up saying the boycott will start Monday, December 5, 1955. The newly formed Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) with Dr. King as the president will lead the boycott.

Alternatives must be created to get around town to ensure the maximum amount of participation. King convince everyone the 18 black-owned taxicab companies to commit their 250 cars to the struggle. Cabs would charge the same fee as the bus to get people back and forth to work. Others were even more improvisational, using donkeys and horse carts for transportation.

Once law enforcement got wind of the taxi coalition, work began to stop them. There was a law saying that a taxi had to charge at least $0.45 for the fare. The police commissioner decided on December 9, 1955, to start enforcing it. Now that the $0.10 boycott rate was made illegal a “Plan B” needed to be formed.

So over the weekend, MIA elicits 300 hundred volunteers to participate in a carpool system. Ninety dispatch locations were created all over the city and ready by the next Monday. Most of the stations were at local churches, and church vans were also used in the effort.

These drivers needed financial support. MIA embarked on an international press campaign that included speaking engagements in various cities. Donations come in from as far away as Tokyo. In the year-long boycott, they received over $250,000.

The carpool made the bus boycott possible. Many black Montgomerians could not walk to work due to age or disability. So those that wanted to stop the boycott understood they had to stop the carpool. Police began harassing drivers and riders. Police arrested passengers for hitchhiking while waiting at stops. Drivers were ticketed and arrested for minor traffic violations. King himself was arrested driving a few MIA members back to their homes after the meeting. The charge was going 30 mph in a 25 mph zone. Many carpool drivers had their insurance companies threaten to suspend coverage. Dr. King had to get his insurance from Lloyd’s of London.

Their perseverance in carpooling did not stop the Montgomery government from sabotaging the movement. A local club owner allowed the MIA to use his club during off hours as an office. The city threatened to pull his liquor license in retaliation. Harassment of the town forced MIA to change locations many times.

There were also efforts to turn King’s followers against him. Pamphlets and leaflets were created that portrayed King as attempting to get rich and famous on the backs of good Montgomerians. Those that live in Montgomery will pay the future cost of this outside agitator. Those that wrote the pamphlets labeled themselves concerned negro citizens, but most people knew they were Klansmen.

The most egregious attempt to intimidate King was the bombing of his home on January 30, 1956. Dr. King was not home at the time; his family was there alone. He rushes from the MIA meeting to confirm they are ok. Coretta’s father comes from Marion upon hearing the news. He offers to take his daughter and grandchildren back to Marion where they would be safe. Coretta refuses to leave Dr. King’s side showing her level of commitment.

Once Montgomery heard news of the bombing of Dr. King’s house bombing a mob of angry boycott supporters assembled in front of his house. Many of the supporters were armed and would not disperse when police told them to. King took the bullhorn told the crowd that his home was now safe and there was no need to stay. He reminded them of how important it was for the movement to remain non-violent. The crowd soon dispersed.

Members of the white citizens’ council dug up a law that made it illegal to conspire to sabotage a business. Montgomery courts gathered a grand jury and indicted 100 people including Dr. King for conspiracy to undermine a business. King turns himself into authorities February 22.

The defense team attempted to make the case that the boycott was to stop injustice not put the bus company out of business. Many Montgomerians came to give testimony of the abuse they received at the hands of bus drivers. The judge was unmoved and sentences King to 386 days of hard labor and a $500 fine. The sentence would have been worse, but the judge had leniency because King stopped a riot the night of the house bombing.

In the end, King will be victorious. However, it is important to remember what he and his supporters had to endure. It also serves as a lesson in what the system will do to maintain itself. Ultimately, this is the level of conflict one needs to survive to make a positive social change.

All Labor Has Dignity

This book chronicles King’s speeches and interactions with Unions between 1957 to 1968.

The chief obstacles to America fulfilling its promise are war, poverty, and racism. These three evils are intertwined and once person deeply understand them the lines between them are blurred. The forces that create, perpetuate, and defend the institutions are also aligned.

The three evils manifest as an ultra-right coalition: big business, military, and reactionaries in both parties. It is essential for students of Dr. King to remember he had opposition from both parties. This ultra-right coalition was formed because they used similar goals and tactics. The same way police are used to intimidate civil rights protesters the military threatens people in Vietnam. These entities work together to garner public support and maintain control.

More informally the Ku Klux Klan and White Citizen’s council weld power in opposition to the progressive agenda. He made clear both organizations were two sides of the same coin. The White Citizen’s Council would not use violence or racial slurs, but they would use legal means to undermine the civil rights movement. The White Citizens Council was more socially acceptable, so they could expose racist rhetoric in public that would aid the Ku Klux Klan in recruitment. Both organizations promoted regression and inequality in America.

To combat the ultra-right an ultra-left coalition needed to be formed from the civil rights, academia, the church, and labor movement. These movements are natural allies. Most black people are members of the working class. So labor rights, wage floors, old age medical care are vital to living freely in America. Labor will benefit from desegregation because there will not be a more vulnerable class of workers willing to break picket lines. Traditionally, black people would scab segregated unions. If labor allows people of all races to join the unions will be stronger.

Unions were some of the early financial supporters of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Unions having access to well-employed people could crowdfund easily and quickly. The capital was put to good use in the Birmingham Campaign and the Montgomery Bus Boycott to name a few areas.

Fortunately, union funds did not stop King from speaking on racism and segregation in the unions. King implored the United Autoworkers Union to desegregate its local affiliates during an anniversary dinner he was asked to speak. His critique of discrimination in unions extended to the America Federation of Unions the largest and most powerful at the time.

King also praised many unions that had a history of integration and fighting for Civil Rights outsized the Union. The United Package Worker Union of America (UPWA) was an example of an integrated activist union. The UPWA even ran integrated schools in Appalachia. The CIO was not only integrated; it united workers from all trades. His affiliation with these radical unions led to much adversity for King.

Throughout King’s career, he was smeared as a Communist for his support of unions that were started by Communists. This book explains how many unions purged themselves off communists by the 1950s. Also, labor organizer Stanley Levison was considered to be a communist. The author that compiled the speeches in this book explains Levison cut ties with the Communist Party in 1957 before he met King. So King has no contact with Communists or the Communist Party.

All social ills were not merely due to policy. Automation ballooned unemployment by taking away lower skilled jobs. Blacks disproportionately occupied these jobs. White workers also felt this contraction in labor but not to the same extent as blacks. King proposed a universal basic income (UBI) to ease the effects of high unemployment. The government would peg UBI to median income, not the lowest income level.

UBI is the centerpiece of a comprehensive committed anti-poverty program. Previous anti-poverty programs targeted a single aspect of poverty such as housing or food. These programs were embarked on by groups that were not fully committed to seeing the program through. The federal government is the only entity big enough to address these issues in a holistic and sustained manner.

The Vietnam War in addition to being fundamentally immoral hindered the building of the welfare state. It diverted most of the countries resources into subverting Vietnam’s national will. Because the population wanted to support the troops and stand in solidarity against the enemy, the social justice movement was hampered. Many Americans felt a united front needed to be maintained and any internal strife should be postponed until peacetime.

The last speech in the book is “To The Mountain Top” given the day before King died. He explains how the Civil Rights Movement is just part of a larger world movement for justice. Starting with Plato, he gives a summary or Western history bending toward justice and landing right here with us at the Mason Temple in Memphis. He realized he would not make it there with us. However, we are to soldier on and continue his work.

Strength to Love

Strength to Love is a collection of sermons written when pastoring at churches in Montgomery and Atlanta. There are also three sermons written while King was in jail. The sermons that were written in jail will be highlighted with a star (*).

A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart

To be a good Christian one must marry idealism and realism. Realism characterized by a “tough-mind” is defined as incisive thinking, realistic appraisal, and decisive judgement. Idealism characterized by a “soft-heart” is the ability to empathize and love in the form of agape. Tough-mindedness alone leads a person to be cold and detached. Soft-heartedness alone drives someone to be gullible and timid.

There is a lengthy discussion on the false conflict between religion and science. King asserts they are not in conflict, but complementary. They use different methods that lead to different types of truth. So it is acceptable for Christians to offer historical and philosophical critique of the Bible. Both types of truth are necessary to navigate the current world.

He also talks about how science has been perverted to lead people to believe black people are genetically inferior. King asserts disparity in wealth and education are the result of policy current and historical injustice.

Nonviolent resistance is the synthesis of idealism and realism. In that, it realizes blacks will not be able to defeat the most powerful military the world has ever known but still needs to fight for its dignity.

Transformed Nonconformist

Christians are charged with mimicking the life of Jesus which was a life of non-conformity. Christians should be moved by their convictions and a fear of social reprisal. The current state of the world will not allow a true Christian to live a “well-adjusted” life.

Many in the field of psychology say mental and emotional health is reflected by conformity to society. With conformity comes a large social circle, wealth, and comfortable life. Jumboism, is how Dr. King defines the zeitgeist of the age, the need to grow in numbers and be part of something large. Modern day churches have a large quantity of low-quality worshipers.

On Being a Good Neighbor

It takes more than following a creed to be Christian. One must actively manifest their faith in the world. One must show the same universal altruism the Samaritan showed. On the road to Damascus. The Samaritan did not worry in the injured Israelite saw him negatively. He just helped even though doing so would mean he could be ambushed and robbed himself.

Interestingly King says even in the Bible G-d didn’t always show this love. In the Old Testament G-d commands Israel not to kill other Israelites, but slaughter Philistines. Ethnic level morality was not only in Israel. It was in the way Greeks took care of aristocracy and not slaves. The current manifestation of ethnic level morality was American racism.

The following quote shows how Dr. King viewed the relationship between laws and morality:

“Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless…But acknowledging this, we must admit that the ultimate solution to the race problem lies in the willingness of men to obey the unenforceable. ”

*Love in Action*

This sermon was based around the Bible verse “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” He explains how those that perpetuate racism and discrimination are not fully aware of the hurt they cause. Then entreats Christians to offer limitless forgiveness.

King offers the example of Socrates’ execution as an example of respectable men not understanding what they did. The men that executed Socrates did not understand his concept of G-d. Socrates’s G-d had philosophical depth and went beyond traditional concepts and superstitions. King also gives the example of the same ills befalling those that persecuted Christians in the Roman Empire.

There is another discussion on what we today call racial realism, the idea that science supports the notion of black inferiority. He specifically mentions the work of Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead, and Melville J. Herskovits in debunking the claim.

War has outlived its usefulness in Dr. King’s estimation. In the past, it was needed as a negative good to ensure dictators did not take over the world. Now with the invention of nuclear weapons, war could kill all life on earth. The world needs new methods to solve conflict.

*Loving Your Enemies*

Those outside the Christian religion see ‘loving your enemies” as impractical and/or weak. These people do not understand the concept of forgiveness. Forgiveness means an adverse action no longer affects the future relationship. It is no longer block in future interaction. The goal in Christian conflict is not humiliating to the enemy, but to it fosters love and understanding.

Love is often misunderstood. There are three types of love. Eros which is a yearning for union with G-d. Phillia which is reciprocal love between men, friendship. Lastly, there is Agape which is a love for all humanity as your brother. Often outsiders consider “love your neighbor” as “like your neighbor.” Like is a sentimental affection. It is impossible to like someone that actively works to harm you.

Lastly loving your enemies is not only beneficial for the other person. It is advantageous to the person doing the forgiving. Loving your enemies helps to build a relationship with G-d. Hate is cancerous and erodes vital unity and the agape love naturally inside the individual.

Knock at Midnight

In this speech, King urges the congregation to action by explaining society is at a midnight hour. He tells of conformity and comfort are the principle values of most people. It is the churches job to refocus these people. The loss of morality has lead to a mentality of “survival of the slickest.”

The church in recent years has become pro-war. The membership has swollen, but the quality of worship has not. The black church is burning with emotionalism and has turned worship into entertainment. The white church is freezing with classism in direct opposition to the teaching of Christ. The church should not be the master or slave of government, but its critic and conscious.

At the end of the speech, he announces the Supreme Court has deemed bus segregation unlawful.

The Man Who Was a Fool

King presents the Bible story of a rich man Jesus called a fool. He didn’t do this just because the man was rich. The man was called a fool because he mismanaged his wealth through lack of charity. The man saw himself as an island unconnected to those around him. His worldly possessions held more importance than the well-being of his brothers. By not taking his duty to his fellow man seriously, he acted like he was the creator not a creation. There is not a single event in a day that is not dependent on the community working together.

King makes a case against materialism and humanism. Materialism, the idea we are matter randomly organized, can easily be disproven by the complexity and beauty of the universe. Humanism, the idea humans are the greatest creation and destine for good, can be easily disproven by our modern world making us less happy. We have tons of labor-saving devices, but work harder for less reward. Also, science gave us the atomic bomb, proving science is as good as those the weld it.

This speech was updated in 1967. The 1967 version is far more popular.

The Death of Evil on the Seashore

This speech was given on the second anniversary of the Brown v. Board of education victory. He models history as chiefly a struggle between good and evil. The concept of an eternal struggle between good and evil is echoed not only in Christianity, but in Hinduism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, and Platonism. King retells the story of Moses parting the Red Sea and its closing when the Egyptian tried to enter. The evil Egyptians died on the Seashore.

Good is inevitably going to win the fight. The evidence is not only Supreme Court decisions like Brown v Board. It can also be found in the successful struggle for independence in Africa in Asia.

He ends with giving the congregation reassurance that they are on the right side of history and to continue to struggle with oppressors using love.

Three Dimensions of a Complete Life

Already summarized in Measure of a Man

*Shattered Dreams*

St. Paul’s life is used in this speech as an analogy for having a great dream differed. St. Paul planned to travel to Spain to spread the gospel but is abducted by Romans and executed in a Roman jail. St. Paul never realized his greatest dreams.

Not achieving goals can make people react in a few different ways. One can become bitter and cynical. The cynicism will cause the most harm to the person that holds it in the form of physical ailments. One can sink into fatalism, the belief there is no choice in life, and give up. The last option is to accept the bad while holding on to hope.

King believes there is an ultimate destiny for man, but man gets a level of freedom within that ultimate destiny. Due to G-d granting a degree of freedom to man he allows evil to exist on earth.

Gandhi was mentioned in this work as a historical figure that was not allowed to see a free unified India. Other historical figure mentioned were Woodrow Wilson, Handel, and Abraham Lincoln

What is Man?

Summarized in Measure of a Man

How Should a Christian View Communism

All Christian pastors must talk about Communism. Communism is a growing influence spreading over Asia, Africa, and Europe. As a philosophy, it rivals Christianity and is its biggest competition.

Communism is opposed to Christianity. In Communism, the state is central to reality, with the goal being the end of class. There are no moral absolutes in Communism so any method including violence and propaganda can be used to gain power. Because there are no moral absolutes Communism leads to authoritarian governments in practice. All personal liberty is suspended because the most important social entity is the state, not the individual.

Even though King is against Communism, he agrees with many of their criticisms of modern society. The church has lost the prophetic voice, that inspired Roman nobles to give up their life of luxury for persecution. Many Christians are more focused on heavenly freedom than human freedom. The otherworldliness has prevented Christian criticism of racism, poverty, and classism. Therefore Marx’s critique of religion as the “opiate of the people” sticks.

King’s goal is to establish The Kingdom of G-d, which is neither an individual or collective enterprise. The Kingdom is the synthesis of both universal truths.

Our God is Able

G-d is the center of the Christian universe. Many want to make man the center and science the new religion. Nothing man made can compare to the wonder of the natural universe. Science has led to the atomic bomb which puts us all at risk. Man can not save himself without divine intervention.

In Christian philosophy, evil is real, and G-d will conquer it. There is real-world evidence of history bending toward good. The ultimate defeat of fascism in WWII and the end of colonialism in the global south show that good typically prevails. Segregation will soon be added to the list.

He then goes into a personal story from his own life. The first 24 year of it was lived in ease due to his parent’s stability and wealth. When he began leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott his life changed radically. Death threats were constant. One night after a particularly frightening call he could not sleep. He went to the kitchen made coffee and paced the floor. He prayed to G-d for strength. Suddenly, King feels G-d’s presence. That event gave him enough strength to soldier on.

Later that month his house was bombed. No one was hurt, but King was able to take the news in stride. He knew he would be protected by a higher power.

Antidotes to Fear

Fear is ever growing in modern society. Some fear is good and keeps us out of trouble. Other fears force us to innovate. However, the fast pace of contemporary society can lead to constant fear.

King prescribes the antidotes to fear: introspection, courage, love, faith. Introspection will help in deciphering rational from irrational fear. Soldiering on in the face of fear is courage. Love is defined as mutual trust and goodwill. King gives the example of mutual nuclear disarmament. Faith is building an inner resilience to adversity based on spirituality.

Love was especially important to King. He explains as black people grow in political influence whites will fear retaliation. Blacks must reassure white people their fear is unfounded. Blacks want to forgive and forget and move forward in love.

To end the speech he takes time to remember an elderly woman named Mother Pollard. She was an activist in the Montgomery campaign remembered for the quote, “My feet’s is tired but my soul is rested”. After a meeting in which King was putting on a strong front to hide his inner fear and depression, Mother Pollard pulled him aside. She asked if something was wrong, he assured her he was fine. She realized he was covering and reminded him he had the full support from the team, but more importantly, he had the support of G-d. King was forever grateful.

The Answer to a Perplexing Question

The perplexing question is: “How can evil be cast out of the world?”

There are two views debunked by King. The first is the humanistic view that man can cast out evil with his ability. Modern society assumes the advances in science and technology will inevitably lead to a better future. The humanistic ideal is proven false by the current state of the world. The other model is G-d will solve our problems when he is ready, and man has no responsibility. This ideal leads Christians to become otherworldly. It also reduces G-d to a “cosmic bellhop” serving your every wish. The correct view is man acting as a tool of G-d will bring about change.

There is a brief aside in which King explains why he does not believe in infant damnation. Once one rejects the view that man has no capacity for good, one can accept that an infant is not tarnished with sin at birth. Therefore if a child dies, he will not go to hell. It is essential to understand King’s position on this issue to explain why he is pro-choice.

Paul’s Letter to American Christians

King creates a mock epistle in this essay. In it, Paul writes a letter to American Christians illustrating many points. “Paul” chides us in advancing in science but regressing in morality. Our church is divided into many denominations and by race. All divisions in the church are counterproductive. Also, America has high-income inequality with the top 0.1% owning 40% of the wealth.

Pilgrimage to Nonviolence

This essay is an explanation on how King grew past his fundamentalist upbringing. Seminary introduced him to liberal theology. This version of theology stressed reason and criticized the Bible.

There was one issue King had trouble grasping, the idea that man was inherently good. There were too many examples of men rationalizing bad behavior for King not to see reason as tarnished by sin.

Even though liberal theology had flaws, King could not go back to fundamentalism or neo-orthodoxy. It was too pessimistic on the nature of man and led followers to otherworldliness.

His disillusion with the nature of man led him to study social gospel, which is the study of how religion is used to enact change in society. In this study, Mohandas Gandhi was a giant. His idea of satyagaha, love force, was the Christian doctrine of “turn the other cheek.” Now he had a real-world example of non-violence that worked.

Non-violence was not only crucial for American race relations but international conflict. There was a time when war was needed to stop dictators from spreading. However, now with the advent of atomic weapons, war was just too dangerous. Nonviolence had to be the main conflict resolution method in the future.

Dr. Martin Luther King Library

This is a list of summaries of books written by MLK.

Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Conflict

Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Resolution

Stride Toward Freedom: Philosophy

The Measure of a Man

Strength to Love

Why We Can’t Wait: Philosophy

Why We Can’t Wait: History

All Labor Has Dignity

Where Do We Go From Here?: Black Power

Where Do We Go From Here?: America Now and Later

Trumpet of Conscience

Gandhi’s Influence on Dr King ?

Dr. King saw Gandhi as a fellow Christian. Not because Gandhi was part of a church, Gandhi was Hindu. However, he did see Gandhi as a person that used love to conquer hate through non-violent resistance. He went as far as to say the bible verse “there are other sheep I must minister” (John 10:16) and “do even greater things than these” (John 14:12) included Gandhi. In a 1959 sermon, Dr. King said Gandhi was also a master of self-control.

Dr. King says that his first encounter with Gandhi’s teaching was a two years after the death of Gandhi in 1950. Dr. Mordecai Johnson gave the lecture while Dr. King was in seminary. At the time of the speech, Gandhi had already been assassinated. The address had such an effect on King he went out and bought six books on the subject. Some scholars say that Dr. Benjamin Mays introduced King to Gandhi’s work while an undergraduate. Dr. Mays had gone with a delegation of Christians to visit India and met Gandhi in 1935. However in the paper “My Journey to Non-violence” King credits Dr. Johnson for introducing him to Gandhi.

Prime Minister Nehru invited Dr. King to visit India in 1959. The Gandhi National Memorial Fund and the Quaker Center sponsored the trip. Dr. King arrived in India on February 10, 1959. He brought his wife Coretta and biographer L.D. Reddick for the month-long journey and exploration of non-violent resistance.

Upon leaving India, King calls on the United States and Soviet Russia to follow Gandhi’s example of non-violence and disarm. He also calls on India to disarm and become an example to the world. If India did disarm and some other country attacks, the world would rush to her defense, because she is a shining example of non-violence. His call for India to disarm shows how sincerely he believed in the concept of good will inevitably triumph over evil.

King’s view of Gandhi and his trip to India were recounted in the 1959 Palm Sunday sermon, a 1959 article for Ebony magazine, and a 1965 Independence Day sermon. According to King, Gandhi freed India without a gun drawn or a harsh word uttered. He gave a narrative of Gandhi’s life in the Palm Sunday sermon.

Gandhi began his journey when he was kicked off a train after buying a first class ticket in South Africa. The humiliation for being kicked off the train led him to organize Indians for equality. Gandhi gathered inspiration from the bible and Christian authors like Tolstoy. His campaigns in South Africa were so successful that those back home in India wanted his help.

In India, his campaign for equality began in 1922. This first campaign had to end because people in his movement became violent. King commends Gandhi for having the bravery to chastise members of his movement when they transgressed. He later restarted the campaign and protested the high taxes for salt with the Salt March.

Gandhi also wanted to end untouchability, according to King. King believes the fast of 1932 was to stop untouchability. Gandhi takes himself to the brink of starvation. Right before Gandhi was to die of starvation, a group of untouchables and high caste members decide to sign a pact to end untouchability. He never mentions Ambedkar by name. Now untouchability is punishable by three years in jail. Most Indian leaders publicly denounce the practice, and no one would publicly sign a pact supporting untouchability.

In reality, the 1932 fast was to remove Parliamentary reservations for Dalits. Ambedkar had gone to England and secured The Communal Award ensuring Scheduled Castes and Tribes would have seats reserved for them in Parliament. Supporters were glad that England would ensure some Dalit representation. Gandhi wanted to ensure Hindus always held the majority in Parliament. If Dalit had a separate electorate, they could form a coalition with Muslims and weaken Hindu caste rule. Gandhi went on a fast to ensure the Hindu set aside included Dalits. It is unlikely a Dalit could win an election where most of the voters were caste Hindus, and their numbers would increase the number of seats Hindus had relative to Muslims. Ambedkar and Gandhi were able to reach a compromise in the Poona Pact. Gandhi broke his fast and Ambedkar received some reserved seating in Parliament.

King continues to praise Gandhi saying he achieved absolute self-discipline. According to King, Gandhi had no secrets, and his life was an open book. King obviously was not aware of the numerous sexual allegations against Gandhi. These allegations will not be known in the West until much later. However, someone deeply involved in Indian politics would have at least heard rumor of transgression. Arundhati Roy has written many books detailing the violations.

Gandhi is also complemented for using the term “Harijan” instead of “untouchable.” It appears Dr. King is not aware that the term “Harijan” is also offensive and most people that suffer from untouchability and they prefer the term Dalit. The term “harijan” is Sanskrit for “children of G-d.” The term “Harijan” is more palatable to upper caste Hindus than “untouchables” or “Dalit” because it allows the upper caste to sidestep real issues and the root problems with caste. On the other hand, “Dalit” means “oppressed” in Sanskrit. The term “Dalit” forces upper caste to deal head on with the social problems of the day. Many Dalits protested the use of the term “Harijan” while Gandhi was alive. Gandhi knew this and continued to use the word “Harijan” because his priority was to talk to upper caste Hindus.

King also seems unaware that Ambedkar charged Gandhi of having different narratives in the three versions of his newspaper Harijan. The English version always advocated for the annihilation of caste, but the two versions in his native language advocate for keeping upper caste Hindus above Dalit, while removing rituals of purity when one is in contact with Dalits. King praised Gandhi for having a paper dedicated to Dalits.

While telling his story about his brief stint in Trivandrum, Kerala while in India, he tells the story about when he was called an untouchable. He was visiting a high school in the city that was comprised mostly of untouchables, and the principle introduced him as an untouchable from America. King was at first upset, but after reflection, he realized that he was, in fact, an untouchable, along with every other black man in America.

From the evidence I was able to gather, I am not convinced that Dr. King had a clear view of the Indian struggle and Gandhi’s role in it. He apparently knew little of Gandhi’s personal life. It is most likely that a carefully manufactured retelling of the Indian struggle through the eyes of Christian pre-determinism influenced King’s understanding. The idea that good will inevitably win over evil is pervasive throughout the Bible. All the people in King’s life that studied India were Christians with a background or career in theology. So, it can be easily seen that these people superimposed their beliefs on their retelling of the story. Dr. King was predisposed to believe the narrative because of his sincere belief in the Christian faith.

In reality, India had an armed struggle against the British that started in the 1850’s. By the 1940’s the Indian National Army was large and had carried out successful operations against the British in World War II. The English needed to concentrate on rebuilding after the war and did not have enough resources to suppress an armed rebellion. Gandhi came in at the right time to offer a transition of power that would allow for continued economic growth while not consuming British military resources. That does not mean blacks should form a resistance army to mimic the Indians. I present this evidence to show how fundamentally different what Gandhi accomplished was to what Dr. King accomplished.

King’s faith also led him to be humble and extend credit to Gandhi. In reality, the story of Gandhi had the same influence on King as the stories of rebellious Scottish chiefs had on the American founding fathers. Both gathered inspirations to fight tyranny from those that went before them. Both may have used previous struggles as a rough outline of what needed to be done to free their people. But to say that Gandhi was the inspiration or mastermind of the American Civil Rights movement is a step too far. King’s tactics and struggles were his own.

If Dr. King had been introduced to the philosophy of Ambedkar, he would not have given so much praise and credit to Gandhi. King also would not refer to Dalits as “Harijan” if he understood they prefer the term Dalit. He had a very limited view of the Dalit fight, but he saw the struggle against untouchability and racism as intertwined. If Dr. King understood Gandhi’s true feelings on untouchability, he would be highly critical.

As we continue this blog, we will go in-depth on the philosophy of Gandhi, Ambedkar, and King. It is very likely the philosophy of Ambedkar and King will be the most similar.

Sources

Background

  1. Labelling Dalits “Harijans”:How We remain ignorant and insensitive to Dalit Identity. 10-27-2015 S. Ramanathan
  2. L.D. Reddick’s Account of the arrival in India 02-10-1959
  3. Biography of M. Gandhi on http://kingencyclopedia.stanford.edu/
  4. Narrative of Dr. King’s 1959 trip to India found on http://www.gandhiking.ning.com
  5. Poona Pact: Mahatma Gandhi’s fight against untouchability 09-24-2016 https://www.indiatoday.in
  6. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s BBC Interview in 1955
  7. Arundhati Roy: Race, Caste – Ambedkar v. Gandhi posted by Joe Friendly on 10-14-2014 YouTube
  8. Arundhati Roy: The Doctor and the Saint posted by We Are Many Media on 10-16-2014 YouTube
  9. An odd kind of piety: The truth about Gandhi’s sex life 01-02-2012 http://www.independent.co.uk/
  10. The Sexuality of a Celibate Life by Vinay Lal 05-01-2011 https://www.sscnet.ucla.edu
  11. Debunking the Gandhi Myth:Arundhati Roy posted by The Laura Flanders Show 10-21-2014 YouTube
  12. Dr. King’s Papers and Speeches

  13. His Influence Speaks to World Consciousness paper 01-30-1958
  14. My Pilgrimage to Nonviolence paper 09-01-1958
  15. Statement Upon Return from India 03-18-1959
  16. Palm Sunday Sermon 03-22-1959
  17. My Trip to the Land of Gandhi 07-1959 published in Ebony
  18. The American Dream sermon 07-04-1965

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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Asa Philip Randolph (1889 – 1979)

Accomplishments
 
+ Organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
+ Pressured POTUS Franklin Roosevelt into signing Executive Order to stop
segregation in Defense Contracting
+ Pressure POTUS H. Truman into signing Executive Order to end segregation in the
military
+ Directed March on Washington in 1963
+ First Vice President of the AFL-CIO in 1955 to 1968
+ Founder of Negro American Labor Council
+ Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom by POTUS Johnson
+ The movie “10,000 Black Men Named George” was written about Randolph’s life
 
Short Biography
 
Asa Philip Randolph was born in Crescent City, Florida in 1889 to a working class African Methodist Episcopal preacher and his wife. Randolph’s father, James W. Randolph, was heavily influenced by Black Nationalism. In the early 1900’s Henry McNeal Turner, fellow AME preacher was first developing a philosophy that called for black people to leave America in mass and resettle in Africa.[D] Turner also believes G-d was black and it was important for blacks to see G-d in their image. Black nationalist thinking will have a profound effect on Randolph’s life.
 
Randolph’s parents were not only armchair philosophers; they lived what they preached. A black man was being held in a Florida county jail. A mob was preparing to lynch the detainee, and James Randolph organized a protection force to surround the jail. His mother sat at home and protected the family with a loaded shotgun.[C] Philip Randolph vividly recounts the story in many sources.
 
In Randolph’s early years he excelled in school. Randolph graduated valedictorian of his high school class in 1907. He left Florida to pursue an acting career and went to New York City in 1911.[A] While in the acting community he was first introduced to Socialism. He began to devour all the information he could on the new philosophy. While at one of these Socialist meetings he met Chandler Owen, a Columbia law student. The two began a partnership that synthesized various elements of Socialism and black liberation. The pair was colloquially known in Harlem as “Lenin” (Owen) and “Trotsky” (Randolph).
 
The partnership of Randolph and Owen culminated in the periodical they published called the “Messenger” in 1917. “Messenger” campaigned against lynchings, American participation in World War 1, and segregation. The publication was endorsed by the Socialist Party of America and deemed by the Department of Justice as “the most dangerous of all Negro publications.” [A]Various ideological differences caused the publication to disband in 1919. [A]
 
Randolph initial forays as a union organizer were troublesome. He first attempted to organize New York City Elevator Operators. He then became president of the National Brotherhood of Workers of America, a shipyard worker union. The National Brotherhood dissolved due to pressure from the American Federation of Labor (AFL).
 
His greatest success as a union leader came with the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP). The largest group of Sleeping Car Porters worked for the Pullman Company. The Pullman Company was one of the biggest railroad companies in the early 1900’s. The Sleeping Car, as the name entails, had sleeping berths to allow a person to sleep on long train rides. The Pullman Company had a reputation for the best and most luxurious sleeping cars. A trip on a Pullman Car would be a huge status symbol.
 
A Sleeping Car Porter would be equivalent to a modern day airline stewardess, hotel concierge, and luggage handler all in one. The Sleeping Car Porter would greet the traveler on entry, carry their bags, inform them of train rules, show them around the train. Before the porters unionized, they would commonly work one hundred hours a week. The pay was $1,230 a year in 1927, when the poverty line was $1,500.
 
Randolph was elected president of the BSCP in 1925. It was the first time a black union took on a large corporation. As with many other labor movements, Pullman Company used violence and intimidation to subvert unionizing efforts. Despite adversity, the BSCP was able to sign 51% of porters into their union in the first year.[A] In 1935, Randolph was able to begin negotiations with the Pullman Company. In 1937, the Pullman Company entered the contract with the BSCP.
 
Randolph’s success in the BSCP made him a prominent figure in Civil Rights. He decided to turn his attention to racial segregation in the war industry. He partnered with Bayard Rustin to organize the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1941. Randolph threatened to have 50,000 people protesting in the city. POTUS F. Roosevelt felt the pressure and signed Executive Order 8802 also known as the Fair Employment Act. The Fair Employment Act ended racial segregation in war industry. The 1941 March was called off due to the signage of the executive order.
 
Randolph understood his work was incomplete. He now focused on ending segregation in the armed forces. Randolph formed the Committee Against Jim Crow in Military Service to pressure the government into abolishing segregation in military service. He went as far as telling black people not to register for the draft.[A] POTUS H. Truman felt this pressure and signed Executive Order 9981 to abolish military segregation in 1948.[A]
 
By the 1950’s, a new group of Civil Rights leaders was coming to the forefront. The most promising of the bunch was a young Georgia preacher named Martin Luther King Jr. Randolph arranged for Bayard Rustin to teach King how to organize and build coalitions. Rustin and Randolph’s tutelage culminated in King being the keynote speaker at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
 
While advocating for Civil Rights on the whole Randolph continued to fight for labor rights within the American Federation of Labor (AFL). America has a long history of racism and segregation in labor unions. Randolph also decided to fight this corruption inside the unions. The AFL chartered the BSCP in 1935. Randolph’s involvement continued through the merger with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). Randolph served as vice president of the newly formed AFL-CIO from 1955 until 1968.
 
Randolph also got Civil Rights leaders involved in the labor movement. The only time Malcolm X participated in a labor strike was 1962’s fifty-six-day strike for the benefit of hospital workers at the Brookdale Medical Center. Malcolm X spoke at their rally and publicly supported the black and brown workers. It is important to note he shared the platform with Dr. Martin Luther King. [B]
 
A. Philip Randolph died in 1979 of a heart condition

 

Sources:
Books
Banks, W. M. 1996, Black Intellectuals: Race and Responsibility in American Life, New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
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.
B. “A look at Malcolm X as a mirror for America” New York Times 12-16-1992
C. Asa Philip Randolph biography on http://www.aflcio.org
D. Scott, Daryl (1999) “ Immigrant Indigestion” Center for Immigration Studies

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