Many older white people who remember Martin Luther King will tell you that he was an agitator and a troublemaker. Nothing could be further from the truth. King believed in the non-violent philosophy of Jesus, Thoreau and Gandhi. King had serious moral flaws involving numerous sexual encounters with women and the fact that he was pretty cozy with known communists but he is just what the country needed in the 1950's and 60's. The struggle for Civil Rights was not something invented by Martin Luther King. The movement has existed from the very foundation of our country.The little known Civil Rights movement of the 1930's and 40's planted the seeds for the gains made in the 1960's. However King knew that a non violent strategy had the most chance of success. Non violence can only work in a Democratic country. It cannot work in totalitarian countries or countries managed by dictators. They have no qualms about crushing a peaceful protest and killing the protesters. The N.A.A.C.P and the U.S. Justice Department wanted to focus on obtaining the right to vote for black people. King's focus was direct action that would bring public pressure on Federal, State and local government's to change segregation laws and ordinances that kept black people from enjoying the things that white people took for granted. Like the right to use the same public facilities . Restrooms, water fountains,swimming pools or to be able to sit anywhere on a train or bus. Also to eat in nice restaurants or sit anywhere they wanted to in a movie theater.
The image of policemen beating and arresting marchers who were peacefully carrying signs aroused a negative reaction among fair minded people of the United States, especially in the North. Television news was coming of age and people watched these images each night. As time went on some in the movement became disillusioned with the progress of non-violence and began calling for violence. People like H. (Rap) Brown, Stokely Carmichael and. groups like the Black Panthers also rose to prominence in the late 1960's. Carmichael would coin the term (Black Power). This talk of violence caused a white backlash. Especially after the L.A. and Detroit riots. Most blacks and many whites continued to support the efforts of King rather than the violent rhetoric Kennedy proposed a Civil Rights bill in the early 1960's but he was not able to influence it's passage before his death. I am convinced that the death of Kennedy insured the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It would take the political genius and clout of Lyndon Johnson along with the coalition of Republican support led by Everett Dirkson to pass these bills. The sight of Bull Connor's police and Fire Department using dogs and powerful fire hoses against mostly teenage protesters. The later bombing of the 16th Street Baptist church in which four little girls died attending Sunday school would also have a big impact on the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The sight of peaceful protesters being savagely beaten by police crossing the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma would have a great impact on the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The success of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960's was given momentum by evolutionary changes in white attitudes across the nation. The following statistics are from (DISCOVER THE NETWORKS. ORG)
- In 1942, opinion polls found that the proportion of whites favoring school integration was just 30 percent, and a paltry 2 percent in the South. By 1956, these figures had grown to 49 percent and 15 percent, and by 1963 they stood at 62 percent and 31 percent.
- In 1942, about 44 percent of all whites, and only 4 percent of southern whites, favored the racial integration of passengers on streetcars and buses. By 1956, these numbers had swelled to 60 percent and 27 percent, and in 1963 they reached 79 percent and 52 percent.
- In 1942, scarcely 35 percent of whites nationwide, and 12 percent of whites in the South, were comfortable having a black person of the same income and education move onto their block. By 1956, the corresponding figures had grown to 51 percent and 38 percent, and in 1963 they stood at 64 percent and 51 percent.
- Between 1942 and 1956, the proportion of all whites who viewed blacks as their intellectual equals rose from 41 percent to 77 percent; in the South the shift was from about 21 percent to 59 percent.
- Between 1944 and 1963, the overall proportion of whites who felt that blacks “should have as good a chance as white people to get any kind of job” doubled, from 42 percent to 83 percent.
A true fulfilment of Martin Luther King's dream was an acceptance of black people into American society that would allow them to go as far as their talents could take them. He never asked for special rights or privileges only those promises given in our Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights guaranteed to all Americans. There has been a definite change in white attitudes since the 1960's Virtually all contemporary polls of white Americans show that well over 90 percent now favor integrated schools and public accommodations; that almost all oppose employment discrimination against members of any race or ethnicity; that nearly 90 percent approve of interracial marriage; and that more than 90 percent would be willing to vote for a black presidential candidate. Apparently this poll was taken before the election of Barack Obama.
I remember telling my black friends at various times over the years that I would probably live to see a black man elected president. They all, without exception, laughed with derision at this suggestion. They were convinced that it would never happen. I knew the kind of man that Obama was before his election just like I knew who Bill Clinton was. That is because I do my homework. Nothing they ever did surprised me. But the only positive thing I could see in the election of Obama was the fact that the color barrier had once and for all been broken. I knew that it would be to no avail because Obama is the angriest of black men. He is nothing but a slick talking H. Rap Brown, Stokely Carmichael, Al Sharpton, Jeremiah Wright or any other angry black man you can think of. Because of this angry black man in the White House American racial harmony has taken a giant step backwards. No president in American history has had the opportunity to bring about racial harmony like Barack Hussein Obama but he has so far squandered this opportunity. It is time to acknowledge that much of the objectives of Kings dream has been accomplished and to allow time to continue healing wounds. Obama, Sharpton and the rest should acknowledge and live by the words of King "Let us not wallow in the valley of despair"
|H. Rap Brown|
|Barack Hussein Obama|