December 2, 2010
While growing up in Chicago all of my friends, both male and female would tell stories of how one or more of their family members had to flee the south because they wounded or killed members of the Klu Klux Klan or other white people in retaliation for the way they were treated. Today’s column is my tribute to those unsung heroes; some of them gave their lives for us.
For many years, we've been taught the harrowing description of the civil rights movement as a series of nonviolent protests, led primarily by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and other ministers, that so stirred the hearts of northern white America that the courts and the government passed a series of laws that ended white supremacy and the practice of Jim Crow. This is his-story, not the truth. The civil rights and human rights movement for Black people began before they left the Motherland.
No African-American accepted their status as slaves and the slave owners were aware of this and lived in fear of the Blacks under their control. Not only did slave owners expect slaves to run away, but they believed that revolution would happen at any moment. It demonstrates how Americans get a distorted understanding of their past in their high school years, believing that persons of African decent accepted the injustices heaped upon them from persons who considered themselves superior. This was not the way that it was.
African slaves revolted as early as 1733 in St. John, Virgin Island; the first major slave revolt in the south was led by a slave named Gabriel Prosser in the 1800’s: Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, Cinque and other followed shortly thereafter. And while these are the most prominent that is documented in the annals of history, there were thousands more, by Black men, women and children that are not known.
Frederick Douglas in his Fourth of July speech acknowledged: ‘What, am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters?”
Most states in the South passed anti-African American legislation. These became known as Jim Crow laws. This included laws that discriminated against African Americans with concern to attendance in public schools and the use of facilities such as restaurants, theaters, hotels, cinemas and public baths. Trains and buses were also segregated and in many states marriage between whites and African American people.
There are hundreds of thousands of stories of African Americans who were intolerant of the conditions when the South was under the grip of so-called Jim Crow laws but Blacks fought back, although the history books will teach you that they did not. Long before Emmett Till and Rosa Parks.
By the First World War, Blacks were increasingly armed and prepared to defend themselves from mob violence in many parts of the country, even in the Deep South. In one case, the mayor of Memphis, Tennessee was advised, “The Negroes would not make trouble unless they were attacked, but in that event they were prepared to defend themselves.” Most of the race riots were the result of Negro retaliation to white acts of persecution and violence.
The "Red Summer of 1919 there were 26 race riots between the months of April and October. These included disturbances Charleston, South Carolina: Gregg and Longview counties, Texas, Washington, D. C., Chicago and Elaine, Arkansas.
These quotations are taken from “The Voice of the Negro,” a brilliant compilation by Robert T. Kerlin, professor of English at the Virginia Military Institute. They reflect the true mood and reaction of the times.
“For three centuries we have suffered and cowered. No race ever gave passive resistance and submission to evil longer, more piteous trial. Today we raise the terrible weapon of self-defense. When the murderer comes, he shall no longer strike us in the back. When the armed lynchers gather, we too must gather armed. When the mob moves, we propose to meet it with bricks and clubs and guns. If the United States is to be a land of law, we would live humbly and peaceably in it; if it is to be a land of mobs and lynchers, we might as well die today as tomorrow.”
So, likewise, the New York Age: “Every day we are told to keep quiet. Only a fool will keep quiet when he is being robbed of his birthright. Only a coward will lie down and whine under the lash if he too can give back the lash. America hates, lynches and enslaves us, not because we are black, but because we are weak. A strong, united Negro race will not be mistreated. It is always strength over weakness, might over right.” Meanwhile a colored preacher writer in the Cleveland Gazette: “don’t start anything, but when something is started make it hot for them and finish it.”
These are stories and factual descriptions of the temper and frame of mind of our forefathers and of our ancestors and America should be exposed to the truth and not the myths of American history. The important thing to point out is that here in America, a propaganda machine was set in motion, powered by huge media and political interests repeating the Myth that Black people were docile and afraid. Their mission was and is, to prevent real history from reaching people. Do not trust those sources. Do your own research.
Please listen the Bernie Hayes radio program Monday through Friday at 7am on WGNU-920 AM, and watch the Bernie Hayes TV program Saturday Night at 10pm and Friday Morning at 9 am on KNLC-TV Ch. 24.
I can be reached by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be Ever Wonderful!