“Some see Malcolm in him. Whites generally do not like him. But they never like leaders who are black and forceful. Daughtry’s background is similar to Malcolm’s. He’s off the streets, “Dope,” he says, “I know it. I was in that jungle. I lived it. I know what it is to be in jail.” He was in jail 25 years ago. If you ask him, he will tell you that he was a street hustler, a manipulator. He was also once an armed robber. His turn around came in jail. “I started praying,” he says. “Getting down in that stinking jail cell – I decided then I wanted to commit my life absolutely to the Lord.” During his imprisonment, he began to read. It was the same with Malcolm. It was at the Federal Penitentiary in Lewisburg, PA. There he got his academic preparation. Now it is his time. “It’s funny,” he said recently. “We’ve been doing a lot of these things we’re doing now for years and nobody paid any attention to us. Now everything we do is noticed. I don’t know why. I’m trying to figure it out. The answer is out there in the streets. The streets of the have-nots. In America now whites decided that they want the cities back. It is a battle for space. And for the have-nots, there are no jobs; the schools continue to turn out kids who cannot read, and now winter is coming and it will intensify the pain. But the issue at the forefront is the police. Too many kids are shot. Daughtry does not let it slide. He built a movement around the killing of Arthur Miller in Crown Heights. He is the driving force in bringing together the Black United Front, an amalgam of black groups, most of them Brooklyn based. But at the bottom of it all is the mayor of the City of New York. A mayor who is afraid of the black people. He will not deal with Daughtry. He sends out his police. It was reminiscent of Alabama that summery day last September when Daughtry brought his list of 10 demands to City Hall. The mayor stayed inside and he ringed his fortress with cops.
He’s got center stage Daughtry is not a politician but he is political. He’s into voter registration. He talks about politics constantly. But often his talk is critical of elected officials. Now, they’ve given him center stage. As Sam Pinn said when speaking of the elected officials. “They’re not about to take the risks. They fear the wrath of the established order. Daughtry has no political base to lose. His church is with him. And his support is growing. He is in every section of the city. He has a local radio broadcast. He has a newspaper. He has even had a film made, documenting his movement. “Our church is run down,” he says. “We don’t have any money and we don’t have a lot of people. But so much of what happens in the city goes through more now.” Yesterday in the morning he was at the funeral of a woman who was black and killed last week by the police. Then he was busy with a march planned for next month at the United Nations. And he talked of “some other things” he’s kicking around. He does not stop. “Sometimes,” he said yesterday. “I go back to my neighborhoods. They are just blown out now. I just go and hear the feet running. When people are powerless, when they don’t feel that they can impact on those factors that shape their lives, it creates frustration… frustration that leads to a lot of things… to violence… striking back…” He may seem an unlikely leader. They may not like him but he is there now and the mayor and the city will have to deal with him. Winter is upon us now. The pain that is there in the neighborhoods of the have-nots will be intensified.”
Dr. Cornel West in the Timbuktu Learning Center
I have been feeling strongly for some time that God was orchestrating our movements to tell the story or to record the history of a critical time in America and in the world and the part that our church the House of the Lord church(HOLC), our organizations primarily the National Black United Front (NBUF) and the African People’s Christian Organization (APCO) and the part I played as leader of those organizations in the late 1960s through 1990s are the years in question.
There are too many pieces that are falling in place coming from near and far for me to believe that this is just a coincidence. Last night, Monday, August 9, 2021, Dr. Cornel West who did his first book, Prophesy Deliverance! in the Timbuktu Learning Center was our namesake program. During the Covid season, we created the Timbuktu Learning Center (TLC) via conference call modeled after TLC in the HOLC during the years in question which was modeled after the Timbuktu city and university in Mali, Africa in the 13th century. As a feature of the TLC, I have created conversations with movers, shakers, and opinion-makers which I hope to have prominent personalities who in some way as observers or as participants in that period in history. I feel driven to record as much as I know, after 90 years obviously, I’ve seen many changes, and the years in question along with the organizations before mentioned helped to bring about the changes. So, believing we are spirit-led I want to insert Dr. West’s foreword in my book, No Monopoly on Suffering published by Africa World Press:
“ Herbert Daughtry is one of the towering prophetic leaders of his generation. Pastor of the world-known House of the Lord Pentecostal Church for nearly forty years, founder and first chairperson of the National Black United Front, and leader of the People’s Christian Organization, Rev. Daughtry has touched the lives and inspired the hopes of thousands of people. He certainly has enriched my life - as a friend, mentor, comrade, colleague, and fellow question.
I shall never forget the first time I witnessed his courage and vision. It was on the corner of 125th Street and 5th Avenue in Harlem in 1977. He was leading a march, giving a speech, and fusing his fervent Christian witness with radical progressive politics. His profound commitment to overcoming Black suffering was undeniable, and his love for the people was overflowing. I decided to get to know him. By an act of share grace and providence, A.G. Miller, a student at Union Theological Seminary (where I then taught) and now a professor at Oberlin College - approached me to give a series of lectures at his place of worship, Rev. Daughtry’s church. Little did I know that his invitation would lead to an exciting and enhancing period of nearly 10 years of monthly lectures at the House of the Lord. In fact, major parts of my first book, Prophesy Deliverance! An Afro-American Revolutionary Christianity (1982), was first heard in Rev. Daughtry’s Church in Brooklyn. Furthermore, it was the first time I faced the challenge of lecturing (with no notes) to an eager yet weary audience after a long day's work - be it a rainy, snowy, or sunny day - about Modernity and the problem of evil in America. Under the able leadership of Rev. Daughtry and Charles Barron, Timbuktu School was established.
This grand institution gave free courses by professors Ivan Van Sertima, John Henrik Clarke, Gayraud Wilmore, James Cone, James Washington, myself, and many others. I shall never forget the deep sense of engagement, learning, and inquiry in the basement against the backdrop of the Black Jesus – with Rev. Daughtry and his lovely and brilliant wife Karen in the front row usually with their children.
Like the prophets of old, Reverend Daughtry often has been misunderstood. His sincere outrage against injustice and social misery has challenged the status quo and unsettled the powers that be - at the White House, State House, City Hall, Wall Street, the New York Times, or Daily News. This is especially so in regard to his relations with Jews in New York. We know that any wholesale critique of the vicious legacy of white supremacy includes Americans of all colors, including Jews and Blacks. Any principled opposition to xenophobia requires wrestling with these evils in our own souls and society. Yet how easy it is for the mainstream media to demonize Black leaders who target American racism in white and Jewish communities. All too often, the stigmas of a Black racist demagogue and Black anti-Semite are attached for life.
Needless to say, there certainly are some Black racists and Black anti-Jewish bigots in America. Yet, the false stigmas attached to those like Rev. Daughtry ironically increased their ranks. So I am delighted to see my brother and spiritual godfather set the record straight. His rich stories need to be heard. His integrity and character shine through, and like the cracked vessels we all are, his deep humanity is clearly seen. In this way, he speaks his truth and bears witness in the best of our Black Christian tradition of suffering and love, evil and hope for resurrection.”
To be continued…