Upon waking this morning the news seemed focused on Bubba Wallace, Confederate flags, and Bubba’s need to apologize to his fellow NASCAR drivers. The truth is, until a noose was discovered in his garage I wouldn’t have known Bubba Wallace from Bubba Gump or some guy who runs a gasper goo catch, clean, and cook show on YouTube (now you have something to Google). But, it got me thinking about hangman’s nooses and how I came to become proficient in tying them.
I grew up in the 1940s and 1950s when the main recreation for young boys was listening to Tom Mix on the radio and going to double feature Saturday matinees at the Lyric or Rand theaters. Most cowboy shows had plots that focused on some crooked rancher or banker who had a gang of thugs doing his evil deeds and at its worse, a hero always rode into town and saved the citizenry from these evildoers.
For decades defenders of the Confederacy have argued that the secession of the South had little to nothing to do with slavery. It was all about protecting a way of life, a history, a culture, the purity of Southern ladies, or the political idea of states versus national rights.
It is generally claimed that the beginning of the American Civil War began with the bombardment of the Union Fort Sumner in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. This occurred on April 12, 1861, but the succession of Southern states from the United States began when South Carolina seceded in December of 1860. When the war began depends on which action you choose.
Donald Trump and those he brought to his White House are possibly the most historically ignorant group of people ever assembled. There have been many events the Trumps have announced but later were informed their date conflicted with some historical event and that going ahead could harm their campaign. Just this week Trump announced he was jumpstarting his campaign with a rally in Tulsa, OK on June 19. Then he rescheduled the GOP’s national convention for Jacksonville, Fl in late August.
Rachel Maddow did a segment about a twenty-two-year-old woman who thought the definition of racism should be broadened to include references to the concept of systemic. The woman approached Merriman-Webster about altering its definition and to her amazement the publisher agreed and will be revising the definition of racism as well as that of several other words germane to the subject of race.
I haven’t been living in a cave so I’m very aware of what’s been going on in the world of defunding the police. I also know that what it means has not been clearly defined yet but, in general, it doesn’t mean a world without badges, nightsticks, and Glocks.
Nevertheless, whatever it ultimately means will be controversial and will require lots of discussions and serious thought, along with some people finding themselves without a career.
One thing needed is to finally reach an agreement to the reality that racism is both a systemic and institutional part of America’s police forces.
I sat here for about an hour trying to put my thoughts about Minneapolis together into a blog. Then I took a break and checked my YouTube feed where I found a new video from Trae Crowder that says it so much better, and with far more dirty words than I could say.
For this final day of Black History Month, I went to blackfacts.com looking for a topic. I quickly noticed that Hattie McDaniel became the first black actor to win an Academy Award on this day in 1940. McDaniel won the Oscar for her performance of Mammy in Gone With the Wind.
As I began writing about her the names of other black performers who’d became famous playing racially stereotypical characters came to mind and I went to YouTube and watched some videos of Stepin Fetchit, Pigmeat Markum, Moms Mabley, and Eddie Anderson. I’m old enough to remember when these people performed on radio and in the movies and that I remember them as really being funny. Such is not the case today. I think with age and education our awareness and sensitivity have been attuned to what was behind it all and how offensive it must have been for those who were forced to make their livings from playing these parts.
It could be argued that the modern desegregation movement began with the 1954 Supreme Court decision in the case of Brown v. Topeka. A decision in which the court ordered public schools to desegregate with, “all deliberate speed.” The immediate problem became, not everyone was on the same page about the meaning of all deliberate speed.
Sixty-six years after Brown racial segregation still exists throughout America and many will argue that the conservative segregationist crowd is taking us backward with the widespread use of educational vouchers.
You may have difficulty pronouncing El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. You may have difficulty spelling El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. You may have never even heard the name, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. But you could say it, spell it, and you likely have heard the name. El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz was more commonly known as Malcolm X and on this day, February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was shot to death at the Audubon Ballroom in NYC.
I would have been 23 years old and living in California. The civil rights movement was going on all around me and I, like so many white Americans, was struggling to understand what it all meant. Also, like so many whites I accepted the idea that Malcolm was a violent person and belonged to a violent religion that was led by a violent and dictatorial leader, Elijah Muhammad. I also assumed that Malcolm had died as he had lived, violently, and got what he deserved.
Below is an article I copied from Wikipedia about the Civil Rights Act of 1957. You can read the entire piece if you wish but the one thing I wanted to point how is what this article has to say about changes in our political parties.
Please note the voting that passed this bill into law.
Strom Thurman, the Democratic Senator from South Carolina made history by speaking against voting rights for African Americans for 24 hours and 18 minutes.
Notice the documents he read. The very documents that guarantee in some way the individual rights and equal protection of all American citizens
Look at the wide margin of Republican support in the House and the narrow Democratic support.
Very similar margins of support occurred in the Senate.
What you see with the passing of this bill is that America’s political parties were still what they had been since prior to the Civil War. Until the Civil Rights legislation of the 1950s and 1960s, it was the Democrats who had been major supporters of segregation and the racial status quo, especially in the South. That changed, however, when Thurmond and so many other conservative Democrats fled the party during the Lyndon Johnson years and became Republicans. Suddenly the conservative ranks of the GOP swelled and Republican politicians like Nixon and Goldwater employed what became known as the “southern strategy” to win elections.
From then to now it has been the Democrats who are most likely to support racial equality efforts and the Republicans the opposite. The positions of the two parties essentially did a racial flip flop.
It should be noted that Republicans routinely deny the existence of a Southern Strategy or that their party is less open to equal representation than the Democrats. While there may be some degree of truth in this, as a rather progressive historian I believe there is ample evidence indicating that American minorities feel more protected and included with Democrats than with Republicans.
The question is up for debate and for you to do your research and decide for yourself.
“The Civil Rights Act of 1957, Pub.L. 85–315, 71 Stat. 634, enacted September 9, 1957, primarily a voting rights bill, was the first federal civil rights legislation passed by the United States Congress since the Civil Rights Act of 1875. The Civil Rights Act of 1957 was also Congress’s show of support for the Supreme Court’s Brown decisions, the Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which had eventually led to the integration, also called desegregation, of public schools. Following the Supreme Court ruling, Southern whites in Virginia began a “Massive Resistance.” Violence against blacks rose there and in other states, as in Little Rock, Arkansas where that year President Dwight D. Eisenhower had ordered in federal troops to protect nine children integrating into a public school, the first time the federal government had sent troops to the South since the Reconstruction era. There had been continued physical assaults against suspected activists and bombings of schools and churches in the South. The administration of Eisenhower proposed legislation to protect the right to vote by African Americans.
Democratic Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, an ardent segregationist, sustained the longest one-person filibuster in history in an attempt to keep the bill from becoming law. His one-man filibuster lasted 24 hours and 18 minutes; he began with readings of every state’s election laws in alphabetical order. Thurmond later read from the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and George Washington”s Farewell Address. His speech set the record for a Senate filibuster. The bill passed the House with a vote of 285 to 126 (Republicans 167–19 for, Democrats 118–107 for) and the Senate 72 to 18 (Republicans 43–0 for, Democrats 29–18 for). [clarification needed] President Eisenhower signed it on September 9, 1957.”
Chances are that you’ve all heard of the Sears Roebuck Company and Booker T. Washington. But, there’s a greater chance you’ve never heard of Julius Rosenwald, a Chicago businessman born to German-Jewish immigrants.
Rosenwald was a businessman with a concern for the education of Black children in America, especially those in the segregated South. He was both the president of Sears and a member of the Board of Trustees of Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute. In 1912 Booker T. Washington approached him with the idea of building schools in which to educate Black children.
NOTE: This is a reprisal of a piece I published in 2012 and while it remains informative and accurate it astounds me how positive I sounded eight years ago and how pessimistic I feel today. Eight years ago we had the hope that arrived with our first African American president. Today we have a president who wouldn’t hesitate to fertilize the seeds of strange fruit if he thought it would advance his fortune and fame.
I’ve been a student of American History for most of my life. The thing that draws me to history is the constant challenge it presents to one’s perception of reality. We all live in a comfort zone and make assumptions that everyone is experiencing what we are and that things have always been as they are. Studying history never stops pulling the rug out from under one’s feet. Just when I thought I couldn’t be shocked, bam!, I’m laying on the floor!
The Civil Rights Movement of my memory began in the 1950s and as an ignorant and complacent white teenager from Ohio, it took me some time to figure out what was happening. I don’t know how many events or which particular one jolted me out of my stupor but one that I remember took place at a Five and Dime lunch counter in Greensboro, NC, sixty years ago February 1, 1960.
Many larger communities of that time had an F.W. Woolworth variety store and most of those had lunch counters. While blacks were permitted to shop for everyday goods they were not welcomed at the segregated lunch counters.
The former governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, recently stated that the Confederate Flag had been hijacked by Dylann Roof, the white nationalists who murdered nine innocent churchgoers in Charleston, SC several years ago. Haley, appearing on Glen Beck’s radio program, claimed that to most people of South Carolina the Confederate Flag represented a history of “service, sacrifice, and heritage”.