The House of the Lord Church where Black Political Power was Born and Nurtured
Photo Bio Series: Black Power Revisited (cont.)
The following is the continuation from part VIII of the black Power series published Wednesday, August 2, 2006. This excerpt is taken from literature written over 40 years ago. I hope the reader finds the articles as interesting as I have found them.
Now let us turn our attention to the fears and accusations. It is said that Black Power divides our leadership. True, but the disagreement is in strategy, philosophy, tactics, etc. The end or goal of all approaches is equality, of opportunity and human dignity.
Malcolm X once said that what everybody wants is freedom. And that separation, integration, nationalism are only means toward that end.
I believe it serves our interests to have radicals, revolutionaries, moderates, yes, and even conservatives in our struggle. Any uniformed leadership facilities manipulation by adversaries.
Leaders with nothing to lose supply a recklessness to the struggle vital to freedom.
They keep honest leaders without backbone-honest. They make it hard for sycophants to seize power. They pose a consistent threat to the power structure.
They enhance the bargaining position of more acceptable leaders. Moderate leaders supply a stabilizing force. They prevent radicalism from becoming radicalism for the sake of radicalism. They keep the door of peace open. They point out the reasonableness of reasoning together. They offer their arm to join with others to build. They may be singled out as an indication of maturity that there are divergent views among leadership.
I think that this variety is to the marked disadvantage of whites.
There was a time when one group with little difference within it spoke for the whole race. Whenever whites desired, they could buy off that whole group and the movement would come to a halt, or was slowed down to a crawl.
When the white people wanted to influence Negro behavior or attitude in one direction or the other, “Gunnar Myrdal observed, “... to get the Negro farmer to plant a garden around their shacks, to screen their windows, to keep their children in school to cure and prevent syphilis, to keep Negroes more respectable to the whites, to prevent them from joining trade unions and to frighten them against outside “meddlers” or ‘real seducers’ - the natural desire is to appeal to the community leaders. The leaders are expected to get it over to the Negro masses who are supposed to be rather passive.”
One of the contributions Malcolm X made to the cause was the alternative he supplies. Before he came, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was considered a radical. The whites had only to deal with King or his kind. To the philosophy, Malcolm X revealed that whites did not come to terms with King than they would have to face the likes of Malcolm X. I believe they understood this. I like to believe the present leadership also comprehends this fact.
It sees the purpose each must serve. It recognizes basic differences. It also knows that there are times when criticism of each other is necessary. Criticism, let it be noted, can be the greatest boon. It can cast light on flaws and failures that were not seen by oneself or by the close to one. If another doesn’t criticize, one ought to criticize oneself.
Sometimes, there is such intensive concentration without, that one forgets to take an occasional glance within. Democrats and Republicans seldom agree, but both want the best for this country. The new leadership may not always agree, but I believe that both want the best for their people.
The following is the continuation from part VIII of the black Power series published Friday, August 4, 2006.
Fear of Isolation
Then there is the fear of isolation of our movement. The perceived go-it-alone attitude of Black Power advocates frightens many black people. This attitude is expressed by Loren Miller “To liberals a fond farewell with a thanks for services rendered. Until you are ready to enlist as foot soldiers and subordinates in Negro lead, Negro officiated armies under the badge of freedom.”
What does this mean?
First, it expresses a healthy distrust of whites. Black Power is cognizant of the fact that whites have seldom acted on their behalf from purely altruistic motives. Most of the time their actions have sprung from paternalism, duplicity, love of the game, nothing-else-to–doism and self-interest.
“Indeed,” wrote Charles E. Silberman, “whites have decided everything-sometimes in malice, sometimes with the best intent, frequently because Negroes were unable or unwilling to decide for themselves.” He went on to say, “Even those actions which advanced the Negro cause. The Emancipation Proclamation for example were usually taken for reasons having little to do with Negro interests and needs. Hence, they tend to heighten, rather than lessen the Negro’s sense of anger and dependency.”
“The tragedy,” wrote Saul Alinsky, “is that Negroes lacking the opportunity and trapped by insurmountable circumstances, could not themselves come to grips with issues of equality; that none of the issues were resolved on their merits or by the power of the oppressed. They were always a by-product of something more important. This series of situations left many Negroes more or less as by-products of themselves and inevitably-diluted their dignity and strength,” Wendell Phillips observed that the Emancipation freed the slave but ignored the Negro.
Even the most venerated of our white helpers were and are not free from the contamination of the prevailing prejudices.
The radical abolitionist, Lloyd Garrison, expressed his conviction that the freedman was not ready for political rights and realities.
Abraham Lincoln, the first of our Great White Fathers, expressed-his view this way: “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the racial and political equality of the white and black races-that I am not, nor have ever been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition, to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races, which I believe forbids the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And, in so much as they cannot so live while they remain together, there must be the position of superiority and inferiority, and in as much as any other man I am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”