Super Tuesday is over. I watched the proceedings into the morning, or
my eyes were on the TV, my mind was elsewhere. I could not tear my thoughts
away from Georgia. Georgia was the first state to report a winner in
Super Tuesday. Barack Obama was the winner. Those of us, who grew up
in Georgia – the South in general – when old Jim Crow ruled
the southland, must have wondered if we were dreaming. Perhaps, Obama’s
win in South Carolina might have confirmed that we were experiencing
reality. But to win in Georgia is another question. Georgia was the
state of “Colored Only” signs, seemingly implacable discrimination;
denial to blacks of any opportunity or decency; bombings, lynching,
and unspeakable cruelties of blacks.
When I grew up in Savannah and Augusta, Georgia, our mothers and fathers
would have settled for descent treatment. Most of them had forced themselves
to adjust to segregation. It may be hard for those who never experienced
the unbridled hatred, dehumanizing systems and unspeakable cruelty of
the old South, to understand why those of us who lived in the belly
of the beast, rejoice in what might seem to others as modest progress.
Did a black man really win in Georgia or was I dreaming?
The event becomes even more surreal when I looked at the voter breakdown;
Obama won 39% of the white vote to Hillary’s 57%; white men gave
Obama 46% to Hillary’s 49%; white women Hillary 62% to Obama’s
In the age category, whites between the ages of 18 – 29, 77% went
for Obama; so did whites ages 30 – 44, 74% went for Obama. Did
anybody in Georgia ever believe that 46% of white men would vote for
a black candidate for presidency of the United States? Or in the age
category of 18 thru 44, the support for Obama would be over 70%?
It is true that Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in the ’84 and
‘88 elections. It was a major victory, make no mistake about it.
It set the stage for Obama’s success. Let us never forget that.
We owe Jesse eternal gratitude for all that he has done, especially
during his quest for the presidency of the United States. The major
difference between the campaigns of Obama and Jesse was/is the white
participation. Obama won 25% of the white vote in South Carolina and
39% in Georgia. He won Iowa where there is a 95% white population.
What was the reason for whites voting for Obama?
His name? As whites looked at his name they might have thought he was
white or a foreigner or from out of space, anything, anybody, but one
of their “negras” or “uncles” or “boys.”
There used to be a joke called, “Making the Rounds,” when
I was young, maybe it really happened. The story is told of an African
American who wanted equal service in the South. He would put on African
apparel; whisper some mumble jumble that was supposed to be an African
language, pointed to what he wanted or where he wanted to go. The subterfuge
would work every time, to the gleeful satisfaction of the perpetrators.
We would all get a big laugh out of the trickery.
Guilt? Maybe whites wanted to do penance for their savagery e history
or treatment to blacks. The scourge of conscience whipped them into
the Barack camp.
White Mama? They could identify and feel a part of Obama’s campaign
because of his white mama. They could blot out his black father. Whites
are good at negation. They taught us that “Columbus discovered
Paying a Debt? Perhaps whites felt/feel that they owed black people
something. Surely, they must be constantly aware of how they treated
blacks and what they stole from blacks. Surely, they know the history
that there would be no South, in fact no America had it not been for
the labor and bodies and minds of people of African Ancestry.
Perhaps, they were paying a debt. They were engaged in reparation.
Dislike for Hillary? Another reason is the antipathy for Hillary Clinton.
Resentment for Ms. Clinton has been expressed so strongly that it is
conceivable that votes would be cast because of rejection of her.
A new day? Whites in the USA have really transcended race. The dream
of Martin Luther King, Jr. has become true even beyond the expectations
of his dream. It is not just, “…a dream that one day on
the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of
former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of
brotherhood…” And that we are finally living in a society,
“where we are not judged by the color of our skin but by the content
of our character.” Now in Georgia, white men and white women,
especially youth, have cast their ballot for a black man to become President
of the United States.
The Bible teaches there is a time and season for every purpose under
Heaven. Perhaps this is the time – starting or continuing with
what has begun in the Obama’s campaign, that race no longer matters.
Perhaps, the time has come, we can say to Dr. Cornel West, “Race
Does Not Matter.” In the words of Victor Hugo perhaps, “It
is an idea whose time has come” and in the words of Shakespeare’s
Hamlet, “It is a consummation devoutly to be wished.”
But, we, who are the aged and aging ones, have seen our bright sunshine
of hope die in the chill of betrayals and sell-outs. We thought we had
turned the corner in 1865 with the end of the Civil War. The 13th, 14th
and 15th Amendments had freed the slaves, conferred citizenship and
gave voter rights respectively; and with representatives Thaddeus Stevens
arguing for legislation which would give former slaves land and resources;
and the Freedmen’s Bureau create March 4, 1865 – which gave
slaves material support; yes, we thought that the nation was now ready
to live up to its Creed and Pronouncements.
In 1865 – 1880 when the Civil War had ended expectations were
high. Truly, black people’s slave days were over. Black people
had agitated for years on the evils of slavery, creating over 50 anti-slavery
societies. The country, it seem, had come to accept that position. Black
people had fought on the behalf of the Union. In fact, it was said that
there would have been no Union without the black soldiers, the South
would have won the war. Abraham Lincoln said as much.
So, there was great anticipation. The days of bondage were over. Freedom
and justice were begun. Long live the Unions! Political gain enhanced
the hope still more. Legislatures of the South had ample black representation;
from the state of Mississippi came two black US Senators, Hiram R. Revels
and Blanche K. Bruce. In 1866, Congress passed the Civil Rights bill
over the veto of President Johnson. In 1875, more Civil Rights laws
were enacted, and there were the constitutional safeguard as I have
stated, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.
But the rosy picture was soon shattered. The hooded racist of the South
began to ride, spreading terror and death and destruction. (That’s
why black people are not frightened by Bin Laden or terrorists. We have
been living with terror from the day they hunted us, captured us and
enslaved us up to the present time. And, incredibly this terror to which
we have been subjected has often emanated from the law enforcement apparatus).
By the turn of the Century, the nation had experienced another radical
change, and the high hopes ushered in with termination of the Civil
War were dashed to the ground. The road the country had decided to take
with the election of Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876 was quite clear. A
compromise was struck wherein the white South agreed to the election
of the aforementioned pusillanimous President, in exchange for which
they would regain their autonomy, and that meant that blacks would be
theirs to do with as they pleased. And they were pleased to bomb and
lynch black people into a state of servile submission.
By the way, it is interesting to note that in the South Carolina Constitutional
Convention held January 14, 1868, of the 124 delegates 78 were black
and of that number 13 were ministers, about 1/6th of the total. And
it was a black minister, Richard H. Cain, who was elected to be one
of the state’s four Congressmen. So around 140 hundred years later,
two black persons win South Carolina in their attempts to become President
of the United States. Should Black people be excited for what we have
called the success of Jesse and Obama around 140 years later?
So, we are not dreaming. Obama did win Georgia. But, are whites really
genuine and serious this time? For those of us, who like Bishop Desmond
Tutu in South Africa, are addicted to hope, let us hope and pray that
this change is real, sincere and permanent. And indeed the last part
of King’s dream would have been realized 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!”
Attend the Timbuktu Learning Center’s weekly Thursday Night Community
Forums. All Forums are held at the House of the Lord Church from 7pm
On Thursday, February 7, 2007, at 7pm in the Timbuktu Learning, Operation
Life Line (OLL) will host it 4th Community Forum on Mortgage Foreclosures,
Predatory Lending, Debt Restructuring and Money Management. OLL is cosponsored
by the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA) and the Alonzo
Daughtry Family Life Services (ADFLS). At this Forum we will hear a
response from the lending institutions/banks.
Join Operation Life Line if you need assistance or know someone who
needs assistance with their mortgages as it relates to foreclosures,
predatory lending and/or sub prime lending.
Attend NRLAA’s monthly forum Focus on Africa the 2nd Saturday
from 2pm to 4pm.
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of the Lord Church
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For further Information on all events, contact The House of the Lord
Church @ (718) 596-1991.