Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘class segregation

“Wait sounds Never to my ears”; (Mar. 2, 2010)

            Responding to a letter from White preachers in Alabama considering Martin Luther King activities “unconsidered and tempestuous” he wrote from his prison in Birmingham in 1963 this letter:

            “Any non-violent campaign has to satisfy four stages: first, gather facts of injustices; second, start negotiation; third, endeavor auto-purification; and fourth, set up a program for direct action.  Birmingham is a city where segregation is the most rigorous among the other cities: Courts reserve notorious public injustices toward Blacks; many attacks on private properties and Black churches go unpunished; and the White political figures refuse to negotiate in good faith.

            We have got to set up a direct action plan to pressure for a just negotiation.  We discovered that we never obtained a single civil right if not after resolute pressures, legal, and non-violent. Privilege classes never cede their prerogatives without constant constraints since groups lack individual morale values.

            For years, we have been hearing “Wait”; this “Wait” means “Never” to my ears.  When 20 million Blacks suffocate in fetid poverty within opulent society; when you walk quietly the street and not knowing when injustice will hit you next; when you fight the devastating feeling of being considered as nobody, then you comprehend that it is no longer appropriate to wait.  I am convinced that if the non-violence dimension was not prevalent in Black churches then blood would be flowing on the streets in the south.  The ultimate weakness of violence is a descending spiral that generates the destruction of what it seeked to destroy.  Instead of weakening evil it multiplies it.  Violence may kill the liar but it neither kills the lie nor re-establishing truth” (Letters from the prison of Birmingham, 1963)

            A mass non-violent demonstration flooded the streets of Birmingham in 1963; it was squashed violently.  More than 3,000 Black demonstrators were put in jail; King was among them.  Martin Luther King was jailed 20 times for various durations; the prison term in Birmingham lasted 140 days.

            Dr. Martin Luther King (1929-68) was born in the State of Georgia, a grandson and son of a preacher; he didn’t suffer or experience the miseries of the southern Blacks; he wrote his PhD thesis at the seminary of Crozer in Pennsylvania “Comparison of the concept of God between Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman.”

            It happened that in 1955 another Black woman, Rosa Parks, defied the transport regulation of segregating passengers in Montgomery (Alabama); Parks refused to cede her place to a White passenger.  This time around, Blacks were ready to react.  King and another preacher demanded the boycott of the bus company. King said: “We are tired of maltreatments. We have been too patient so far. One of the glories of democracy is that people have the right to protest.  Our protest will be conducted non-violently.  Love of the neighbor is our rule.”

            The boycott lasted 382 days and the bus company changed its rules to avoid bankruptcy. The Supreme Court ruled that segregation in transport is not constitutional.  For 11 years, King traveled more than 10 million km, crisscrossed the USA and traveled to many countries and delivered over 2,500 public speeches. King fame spread overseas and inland; he delivered 208 public speeches in 1957 alone and was invited by Kwame Nkrumah to Accra to celebrate the newly acquired independence of Ghana.  President Eisenhower received King in private audience in 1957.  Pope Paul 6 received him in the Vatican in 1964, shortly before King was awarded Nobel Peace Prize.

            Dr. Martin Luther King was not conversant with the Black northern States problems: the segregation there was class segregation (ghetto life) of the worst kind.  Black leaders in the north and people in Harlem lambasted King’s approachs to their different problems.  Malcolm X understood King’s non-violence program but correctly comprehended that White authorities tactically viewed King’s movement as a lesser evil and favored it to the more radical movements demanding separate State for Blacks.  Malcolm X had this prophecy “Sure, my methods are radically opposed to King’s non-violence that has the merit of exposing the brutality of White racial system but in the current climate I am wondering which one of us will be assassinated first.”  Malcolm X was assassinated 4 years before King.  Like all activists, they didn’t reach the age of 40.  The White authorities decided that it was King’s turn to be assassinated when his non-violence movement lagged behind the radical movements.  

            Stokely Carmichael who instituted the Comity of non-violent students (SNCC) broke out with the “evangelical sweetness” of King and launched the order for “Black Power” against “institutional and structural racism”.  Fannie Lou Hamer pronounced during a congress for racial equality “While King is dreaming I am having nightmares”.  By 1965, King and Ralph Abernathy decided to relocate to the poor quarters in Chicago.  King’s non-violent movement was losing momentum to the radical Black movements. Abernathy could not sustain for long the rough life in the ghetto and moved out to breath easier.

            After the mass rally in Washington DC where 250,000 gathered to hear King saying: “I had a dream that, one day, the State of Mississippi, aflame in injustices and oppressions, is transformed into an oasis of liberty and justice.  I had a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of ancient slaves and the sons of ancient owners of slaves will sit down together at the table of fraternity” the non-violence movement lost momentum because nothing major moved in civil rights demands as during the Kennedy Administration.

            The moment King was assassinated in 1968, 150 cities throughout the USA were set ablaze.  The Federal government and all the States guards ordered tens of thousands of soldiers to tame the mass revolts. The revolts registered 46 killed, 3,000 injured, 2,000 buildings burned, and 23,000 arrests.

            Dr. Martin Luther King published “Combats for liberty, 1958”, “Non-violent revolutions”, “The power of love, 1963”, “where from here? 1967” and “Why we can’t wait? 1964”

“Vast land of unconscious suffering”; (Feb. 28, 2010)

“I knew, as I gained consciousness, that none of my dreams were feasible.  Separation in Whites and Blacks was getting pretty clearly a fact.  It was its effects on the personality of the individual that devastated me.  I was no threat to anyone.  At the age I could reflect, I comprehended that, for so long, my individuality and aspiration counted for nothing.  What I did say could not be understood.  There is nothing in human history a worst corrosive attack to individuality than racial discrimination.  Racial discrimination defined an inferior place for blacks.  The Blacks (having the same dreams as Whites and sharing the same culture) reacted by burying deep down their consciousness this difference: I felt isolated and was scared.  Pride led me to hiding my hatred: I could not let the White feels how profoundly he vanquished me; how he is regulating my life.

I used to hide “the hatred for myself” and could not help but hate the one who provoked this feeling.  Most of the day was wasted on a cruel war waged against my emotions and to dominate my tumultuous emotions.  Emotions I wished not to feel at all but could not help but to feel.  I was in perpetual conflict with reality; I lost hold on my means; my judgment for the objective world was impaired.

I ended up hoarding fantastic ambitions in my day-dreaming; I stored them in this still empty part of my personality so that the ship would not sink into the absurd.  Like every American, I wanted a good job, my home, my own status.  I was day-dreaming that I was organizing secret groups of Blacks; if Blacks refused to cooperate with my schemes then I will fight them: I started hating the uncooperative Blacks.

Then I went on to dreaming of feasible projects.  I was re-living a second childhood; a new feeling of limited possibilities emerged in me.  What of these limited dreams could be feasible?  I found none.  It is based on this feeling of void that I focused my energy:  This constant want that cannot be had; of being hated for no reason.  It was no longer fear of being lynched, discriminated against, or submitting to interminable brutalities that harassed my consciousness: It was this psychological ache from contradictory emotions.  I felt there were only a few Blacks who could make any sense of their lives and who could tell about their history.  A Black life is a vast land of unconscious suffering.” (Black Boy: Hunger for equality)

Richard Nathaniel Wright (1908-60) was born in the south, Mississippi State.  He fled to Chicago in 1927 and experienced the big depression.  He witnessed another form of discrimination: class segregation.  In these conditions, father figure relationship testified for the wide psychological rift between races.  How a Black internalizes class discrimination that is a major obstacle for conscious awareness?  A Black is relegated to inaction and society excludes him.  This conscious inaction is the launching board for getting organized to overcoming this hunger for equality.

Wright published “The children of Uncle Tom, 1938” and an autobiography “A kid from the State”.  Then he published “Black Power, 1954” and “Black Boy”.  He was a communist and was persecuted; he fled to France where he had large impact on black intellectuals such as James Baldwin and Paul Gilroy; he was the inspiration for many movements such as Black Consciousness and Black Power in the 60’s.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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