March 6, 2014
After celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday and African American History Month, most of us will be fooled into believing we are rejoicing the freedom so many have fought and died for.
And because of some elected officials in the Republican Party, African Americans in some states are still suffering from the imbalanced world of disenfranchisement, segregation and various forms of oppression, including race-inspired violence, such as the Travon Martin and Jordan Davis killings.
During the MLK and Black History Month observations some of you remembered how many of our groups and organizations were infiltrated by enemies and spies. Some discussed Cointelpro, a government-initiated counter-intelligence program organized to disrupt and ultimately destroy the civil rights and antiwar movements and victimize or discredit civil rights leaders and activists during the 1960s.
Under Cointelpro the FBI, CIA, and many local police and law enforcement agencies used informers to infiltrate these organizations. One of the stated purposes of this program was to "neutralize" Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Elijah Muhammad, in order to prevent the emergence, in the government’s terms, of a “Black Messiah” who would have the potential of uniting and leading a mass organization of Black Americans in their struggle for freedom and economic equality.
While these agencies and their tactics became known, there was another group that most of us were unaware of. One that used Black people to inform on the NAACP, CORE, SNCC and other civil rights and progressive organizations. The agency was The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission.
A new book and documentary film, Spies of Mississippi tells the story of a secret spy agency formed by the state of Mississippi to preserve segregation and maintain “the Mississippi way of life,” white supremacy, during the 1950s and ‘60s. The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission (MSSC) evolved from a predominantly public relations agency to a full-fledged spy operation, spying on over 87,000 Americans over the course of a decade.
The Commission employed a network of investigators and informants, including African Americans, to help infiltrate these groups and was granted broad powers to investigate private citizens and organizations, keep secret files, make arrests, and compel testimony for a state that, as civil rights activist Lawrence Guyot says in the film, “was committed to an apartheid system that would make South Africa blush.”
Spies of Mississippi tracks the Commission’s hidden role in many of the most important chapters of the civil rights movement, including the integration of the University of Mississippi, the assassination of Medgar Evers, and the 1964 KKK murders of 21 year-old black Mississippian, James Chaney, and two white New Yorkers, Andrew Goodman, 20, and Michael Schwerner, 24.
Most shocking to me were the African Americans who were the traitors. They are named in the film and I am sure you will, or perhaps not, be surprised. I am positive that similar activities are being conducted today, in St. Louis and other cities and towns around the country. We know that social, economic, cultural, and political independence is the only road to total liberation from oppression, exploitation, and racism but we have some of our own working against us.
Southern terrorist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, developed ways of intimidating African-Americans who wanted to vote through lynching and destroying communities through fire. Like to what the Republican Party is doing now through new voter ID and registration laws and by finding Black people who arewilling to sell out the entire movement for a few dollars and a pat on their head.
I don’t know if Marcus Garvey and Carter G. Woodson were prophets but their words were certainly prophetic.
Carter G Woodson wrote “one can cite cases of Negroes who opposed emancipation and denounced the abolitionists. We do not show the Negro how to overcome segregation, but we teach him how to accept it as final and just.”
And Marcus Garvey noted ‘I have no desire to take all black people back to Africa; there are blacks who are no good here and will likewise be no good there’.
Garvey also said “The Black skin is not a badge of shame, but rather a glorious symbol of national greatness. Up, you mighty race, accomplish what you will.”
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Be Ever Wonderful!