A prominent Boston doctor sent me an email on Easter that consisted of a video. It was about an event occurring in Ireland commemorating the Easter Uprising of 1916. “Hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets of Dublin for the largest public spectacle in the history of the State.” A member of the Irish Army Captain Peter Kelleher standing in front of the General Post Office in Dublin read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic signed by among others perhaps one of my cousins James Connolly which was read out 100 years earlier.
Listening to him one part of the proclamation stayed with me. “We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people.”
That came back to me the next day when I read an article about the fight over charter schools. The gist of the article is that the black students who are attending those schools are doing well. Those who oppose them say: “charter schools like Edward Brooke are sapping committed parents, talented students, and millions of dollars in state funding from traditional public schools that serve the bulk of black and Latino students.” In other words if you are a committed parent with a talented student you must sacrifice your child to schools where parents don’t care and the other students are less talented. What parent wants to have her child lose out on a chance for a better future to please others?
Leading the charge against more charter schools is the NAACP president Juan Cofield who is supposed to represent an organization seeking the advancement of blacks. He said: “Even if [charters] are doing better, it’s better for the few. Society ought to be concerned about the many.” How is he advancing blacks seeking to hold some back?
He also foolishly said: “As Brown vs. the Board of Education taught us a dual school system is inherently unequal.” Brown did not teach that. It said segregated schools are unequal. There have always been dual or even multiple school systems as public, private, and parochial as well as city, suburban and country schools.
So how did these two seemingly disparate matters – the Irish proclamation of a nation and the brouhaha over charter schools – come together in my mind. I thought how the Irish people sought to control their own destinies and how the black people seem not to be in control of their own.
I don’t suppose many know that the NAACP was founded by whites at a time that organizations such as the Niagara Movement controlled by blacks were beginning to make demands on American whites. The whites with their money usurped the black voice, decided what their demands would be, and in effect like the old Vaudevillian actors, put on a black face. It was not until 1975, eleven years after the passage of the Civil Right Act, that the first black was elected president of that group.
How much is it dominated by whites today is not known but seeing the way it is advocating against programs designed to help some blacks is worrisome. Is it actually retarding black progress?
Anyone aware of black history in the United States will know how Booker T. Washington who accepted the idea of blacks as second class citizens received many donations from white industrialists; that’s why seeing the many corporate donations from white controlled corporations to the NAACP today and seeing the actions of the NAACP with regard to charter schools, the five page letter, the 1970s busing case makes one wonder whether it too has adopted the philosophy of Book T. Washington.
I’m beginning to think that the letters NAACP stand for Never Advance Above your Current Place. How else explain the actions of the NAACP that is actively working against concerned black mothers and fathers under the guise that no one should get ahead unless all get ahead. You have a nice bright talented daughter and you want to give her the best possible education the NAACP says “hold on there – you can’t do that – stay in your place.”
Blacks should look back at those who had their interest at heart near the same time as the Irish proclamation was promulgated. William Monroe Trotter, W. E. B Dubois before he was compromised by the NAACP, and others who wanted a strong black voice to advocate for blacks. Blacks should recognize the Irish too were treated like slaves. DuBois wrote: “Even young Irish peasants were hunted down as men hunt down game, and were forcibly put aboard ship, and sold to plantations in Barbados.”
It is time for blacks to recognize the NAACP is not helping them. They should unite and issue their 21st Century proclamation based on the Irish idea; “We declare the right of the American blacks to the ownership of their race, and to the unfettered control of black American destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and an indifferent government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the black American people.”