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A lie told a million times will be considered the truth, but the truth told one time can shatter a million lies.
- Kwame Ture
Do you know about Kwame Ture? How about Stokely Carmichael?
Kwame Ture Another Face of the “Civil Rights Movement” Kwame Ture and Stokely Carmichael are the same person.
Kwame Ture was born Stokely Carmichael in Trinidad to working class parents who emigrated to New York City when he was toddler.
He became a leading student activist at Howard University, fighting racism in the early 1960s.
Stokely Carmichael and SNCC
SNCC was one of the most important organizations fighting racism in the 1960s.
In 1964 Stokely Carmichael became chair of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee . SNCC was founded out of a conference organized by Ella Baker in North Carolina. Ella Baker was a Civil Rights organizer and helped create one of the leading student organizations of the 20th century.
Many leaders would emerge from SNCC including: Marion Barry, Diane Nash, John Lewis, Bernice Reagon, Julian Bond, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Bob Moses, James Forman, and H. Rap Brown (aka Jamil Al-Amin).
The Big 6 Civil Rights Organizations
The Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee was the student group of the big 6 national civil rights organizations.
NAACP The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People incorporated in 1911. Its founding executive board was all white except for the sole African American, WEB Dubois.
SCLC The Southern Christian Leadership Conference was founded and led by Dr. King.
CORE The Congress of Racial Equality was created in 1941 inspired by the nonviolent strategies of Gandhi.
SNCC The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee founded in 1960 .
The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was a major Black union founded in 1925 whose leader A Phillip Randolph originally had the idea of the March on Washington. It took almost twenty years for the march to become a reality. The Urban League The Urban League originated in New York City to deal with the great migration of African Americans from rural areas to urban areas.
The Black Radicalism that Came from the “Civil Rights Movement”
While in SNCC Stokely Carmichael helped organize a non-racist party in Lowndes County, Alabama as part of the voting rights work.
The symbol of the racist Alabama Democratic party was a white rooster whose motto was “White Supremacy / For the Right.” To help the African American population distinguish the new non-racist democratic party in Lowndes County from the racist Alabama Democratic Party they used the Black Panther symbol.
The “Civil Rights” Birth of the Black Panther Party
The symbol of the alternative to the racist democratic party was later used by young radicals in California to be the symbol of their Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.
The Civil Rights Birth of “Black Power”
Stokely Carmichael popularized the phrase “Black power” in the last great civil rights march of the 1960’s.
The phrase Black Power caused much controversy, so Stokely Carmichael along with Charles Hamilton wrote the book Black Power: The Politics of Liberation . This book popularized the phrase institutional racism.
Institutional racism - the embeddedness of racially discriminatory practices in the institutions, laws, and agreed upon values and practices of a society.
The last great Civil Rights march in 1965 continued the “March Against Fear” that was originally attempted by one man James Meredith who was shot in his attempt to march through the South.
Stokely Carmichael from Civil Rights to Black Power
Stokely Carmichael would eventually be given the title Honorary Prime Minister of the Black Panther Party by the young radicals of the urban based Black Panther Party for self defense.
From the Caribbean to the United States to Africa
After watching Black leaders killed throughout the 1960 ’ s, Stokely Carmichael moved to the continent of Africa where he married the famed South African singer and anti-apartheid activist Miriam Makeba.
The Emergence of Kwame Ture
Stokely Carmichael, while living on the continent of Africa would change his name to Kwame Ture in honor of his mentors Kwame Nkrumah and Ahmed Seko Ture the first post-colonial presidents of their respective countries Ghana and Guinea.
Shirley Dubois an activist and member of the American Communist Party who married WEB Dubois and emigrated to Ghana with WEB Dubois in 1961. Kwame Ture Kwame Nkrumah
The Black Liberation Struggle Continues
For the rest of Kwame Ture ’ s life he would visit the US to lecture and organize, assisting with the Million Man March, and becoming the most public figure of the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party.
What does all of this have to do with Dr. King?
Stokely Carmichael/ Kwame Ture was a respected ally of Dr. King who was one of the first people called by Dr. King to share the news that King would take a public stand against the Vietnam War.
There were many different faces and aspects of the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s, some faces such as Dr. King are remembered more than others and some aspects of the civil rights movement are remembered more than others.
America’s Dream of King
“ When all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last !"
Dr. King is remembered for bringing America together and to a large extent having his dream realized.
King’s “I have a dream” speech comes from the 1963 March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs. King was clear that Blacks not only needed freedom from Southern Segregation but also economic empowerment in terms of employment.
The entire “I have a dream” refrain of Dr. King’s speech was not part of his written text. It was an inspired ad lib he had used in previous speeches.
Less remembered words from King’s most famous speech: “ Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning…We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.”
King saw his dream turn into a nightmare. “So often in these past two years I have had to watch my dreams transformed into a nightmare. I have felt my dreams falter as I have traveled through the rat-infested slums of our big city ghettos and watched our jobless and hopeless poor sweltering in an air-tight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society.”
The Reality of Dr. King
First Phase :1955-1965 King focused on Southern institutional racism
Second Phase :1965 on King focused on national socio-economic inequality
There were two phases of Dr. Kings life’s work. As King stated, “The first phase had been a struggle to treat the Negro with a degree of decency, not of equality… When Negroes looked for the second phase, the realization of equality, they found that many of their white allies had quietly disappeared.”
Phase 2 of Dr. King’s Work: Structural Inequality
By 1965, the Voting Rights Act was passed
Two days later, August 11th, the Watts Rebellion / Riot occurs
January 1966: King moves to Chicago to focus on urban economic issues
In 1967 there were rebellions/ riots throughout the country. King launched the Poor People’s Campaign.
“ The looting in Watts was a form of social protest very common through the ages as a dramatic and destructive gesture of the poor toward symbols of their need.” - Dr. King Dr. King moved himself and his family into a housing project on the West side of Chicago to express solidarity with ghettoized African Americans in the North. In Chicago King received some of the most hateful responses to his demonstrations to end the defacto segregation in Northern cities. The conditions for African Americans in urban areas that no longer had segregation laws, but still were segregated and disenfranchised, were thrust to center stage not by nonviolent action but by rebellions/riots like Watts, which highlighted the great dissatisfaction of urban Blacks outside of the South.
Dr. King the Unpopular
As King critiqued the violence of urban rebellions he found it increasingly difficult to not critique the violence of America in its war in Vietnam.
This led to King being critiqued by civil rights groups like the NAACP, Urban League, & his own board of the SCLC.
Popular press on King
Newsweek Magazine - King “seemed to have abandoned his dream … in favor of a nation in which a race-conscious minority dictated foreign policy.”
US News & World Report - King “an ingrate unappreciative of the rights won for him by other Americans willing to nourish the Tree of Liberty with their blood.”
The Radical King
“ The majority of white Americans consider themselves sincerely committed to justice for the Negro . They believe that American Society is essentially hospitable to fair play and to steady growth toward a middle-class utopia, embodying racial harmony. But unfortunately this is a fantasy of self-deception and comfortable vanity.”
“ Depressed living standards for Negroes are not simply the consequences of neglect. Nor can they be explained by the myth of the Negro’s innate incapacities, or by the more sophisticated rationalization of his acquired infirmities (family disorganization, poor education, etc.). They are a structural part of the economic system in the United States.”
“ The larger economic problems confronting the Negro community will only be solved by federal programs involving billions of dollars…”
J Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, had 23 field offices focused on inhibiting the progress of Black empowerment groups. Hoover declared King’s proposed “Poor People’s Campaign” as “a grave threat to peace and order in this city [Washington DC].”
The FBI had as its goals “to discredit black groups, and ‘prevent the rise of a ‘messiah’ who could unify, and electrify, the militant black nationalist movement.” The FBI was most concerned about King, Stokely Carmichael, and Elijah Muhammad as this possible messiah.
Martin Luther King Jr., the #1 Threat to National Security As Dr. King organized for national socioeconomic reforms, the FBI worked more intently in “neutralizing” him.
Death on the Battlefield
King died seeing little to no success in the second phase of his work
110 cities would see Black rebellions in response to the murder of Dr. King
A week later President Johnson signs Civil Rights Act of 1968
King’s family after his death King brought down by an an assassin King’s funeral procession Chicago brought to flames with the murder of King
Failed Poor People’s Campaign
A month after King’s assassination, thousands came to DC. Many of these people were poor families from across the country and they created a Resurrection City in downtown DC. They lobbied Congress to address unemployment and poor housing. Little political will to move forward, with rain making Resurrection City a mud swamp, and finally the assassination of Robert Kennedy ended the Poor Peoples Campaign.
Police were sent into remove the poor families that lived in Resurrection City and their shanty towns were torn down, ending King’s last campaign. Resurrection City in downtown Washington DC. Robert Kennedy killed.
Change We Can Believe in? How have African Americans economically advanced since the time of Dr. King? In terms of median family income, the disparity between Blacks and whites has actually increased.
Median Household Wealth The Black-white economic divide is most dramatically seen when it comes to wealth. In 1983 Median Household wealth for Blacks in 2004 dollars was $5,500 and for whites was $82,900 so Blacks had 7% of the wealth of whites. In 2007, before the recession, Blacks had $17,100 dollars in household wealth compared to $170,400 in wealth by whites, Blacks had 10% of the wealth of whites.
Segregation in the New Millennium According to “Beyond Black and White,” a 2002 US Census Bureau report, Blacks are the most segregated racial group in the United States . The report highlights that “holding other factors constant, while Asian and Hispanics composition does not matter to whites buying a home, Blacks neighborhood composition does.” White Americans’ preference to avoid living in areas that are more than 10% Black causes a substantial decrease in demand for Black-owned homes , leading to a decline in the value of homes owned by African Americans . At the same time, this bias artificially increases the demand for and value of homes located in overwhelmingly white neighborhoods.
Poverty Rates Poverty rates for African Americans have gone down since the time of Dr. King, but still remain remarkably high. In 2008, over a third of Black children lived in poverty and 25% of all African Americans were in poverty.
“ Sophisticated Rationalization of his Acquired Infirmities”
According to 2008 Pew Center on the States report, One in 100 , harsher incarceration policies are the primary cause of growing prison population, not an increase in crime or population.
The 2007 National Marriage project reported that the share of Black children living in single-parent homes had a 155% increase while the share of white children living in single-parent homes increased 229%.
Dr. King was critical of those who blamed racial inequality on African American deficiencies rather than structural inequality or institutional racism. Incarceration and single parent households are national social challenges not problems of one particular community.
The Recessions Racial Divide
In a 2008 report it was estimated Blacks lost $71 billion to $93 billion in home value from sub prime loans.
It is estimated by the Economic Policy Institute Black child poverty will reach 50% due to the recession.
Blacks were just pulling out of a recession when the “great recession” hit. Between 2000-2007 Black employment decreased by 2.4% and income declined by 2.9%
40 Years Later: Dream Fulfilled?
Obama’s Dream: no need to address Black disenfranchisement
“ In New York City, for example, the black unemployment rate for men is near 50 percent. My question to you tonight is: Given this unique and desperate circumstance, what specific policies can you point to that will target these communities and what is the timetable for us to see tangible results? - BET
“ So my general approach is that if the economy is strong, that will lift all boats as long as it is also supported by, for example, strategies around college affordability and job training…And I am confident that that will help the African-American community live out the American dream at the same time that it is helping communities all across the country.” - President Obama
Question to President Obama Obama’s Response
The Obama Reality
The Associated Press recently found that US stimulus money for transportation was directed more toward areas of higher employment.
A NYU report notes that of the jobs created by ARRA (the stimulus) 25% will go to Blacks and or Latinos. Black and Latinos are about 35% of the unemployed, meaning stimulus money is helping the racial unemployment divide grow.
Though not willing to target programs for African Americans, President Obama is willing to target other communities
President Obama created The White House Council on Women and Girls
The president signed an executive order requiring all Cabinet members to provide plans for consulting Indian tribes, pledged to consider Indian needs when moving forward on education and health care programs, and has a senior advisor for Indian issues
King’s Truths and the Obama Era
“ The majority of Negro political leaders do not ascend to prominence on the shoulders of mass support. Although genuinely popular leaders are now emerging, most are selected by white leadership, elevated to position, supplied with resources and inevitably subjected to white control .”
- Dr. Martin Luther King
“ I am not interested in power for power's sake, but I'm interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good.”
“ There has never been a solid, unified and determined thrust to make justice a reality for Afro-Americans.”
“ A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
Too often Negro leaders “change from the representative of the Negro to white men into the white man’s representative to the Negro. The tragedy is that too often he does not recognize what has happened to him.” - Dr. King
A Three Million Public
For what the United States is about to spend on soldiers in Afghanistan for 2010 — $100 billion — more than three million jobs could be created in this country. These jobs would not be high-paying ones but would quickly replace 40 percent of those lost during the Great Recession, and they would be most beneficial to those who have suffered the most during this downturn: lower-paid workers.
An equity assessment of
all future spending
An equity assessment will review whether federal funds are investing in communities that are most in need of federal assistance. A proper assessment should determine where funds go, what jobs are created, and in what communities. An equity assessment should insure federal dollars help bridge the racial wealth divide.
Let Us Be Dissatisfied
Dr. King, in his last address to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference annual Convention, titled “Where Do We Go From Here”, King concluded his speech by saying:
We have a task, and let us go out with a divine dissatisfaction.
Let us be dissatisfied until America will no longer have a high blood pressure of creeds and an anemia of deeds.
Let us be dissatisfied until the tragic walls that separate the outer city of
wealth and comfort from the inner city of poverty and despair shall be
crushed by the battering rams of the forces of justice.
Let us be dissatisfied until those who live on the outskirts of hope are
brought into the metropolis of daily security.
Let us be dissatisfied until slums are cast into the junk heaps of history, and every family will live in a decent, sanitary home.
Let us be dissatisfied until the dark yesterdays of segregated schools will be transformed into bright tomorrows of quality integrated education.
Let us be dissatisfied until integration is not seen as a problem but as an
opportunity to participate in the beauty of diversity.
Many Faces of Black Struggle The civil rights movement didn’t begin or end with King. The Civil Rights Movement was one phase of a larger struggle to ensure Blacks receive equal protection under US Law. King and the civil rights movement are pieces of a centuries old struggle for Black advancement in this country.