My book dealing with J.Edgar Hoover, Feds, Reds, Blacks and Boston, as I have tentatively named it, will discuss the black situation around the beginning of the 20th Century. I’ve heard say that many whites died in the Civil War to free the blacks and that since 1865 with the end of that war, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, the black s have been as free as the whites. From that it follows that they have no one to blame for any failings they may have but themselves,
A different picture arises from a better understanding of American history. The blacks may have been freed in name but they were not freed from being second class citizens. It was imprinted on them for about a century after the Civil War that freedom did not amount to equality. This was done was by laws, known as Jim Crow laws, and Southern customs, up to 90% of the blacks lived in the South. Those blacks who might want to run up against those customs faced the likelihood of being lynched.
In the early Twentieth Century certain courageous blacks took to the printing press to start making demands on the American whites that they be treated equally. The idea that they would make such a demand was met with astonishment and outrage in parts of white society. One person deeply bothered by this was J. Edgar Hoover who hired black agents to infiltrate these newspapers and magazines and, like he would later do with COINTELPRO, turn one black publisher against the other so that they ended up fighting each other rather than working together to demand and gain equality.
Hoover was also able to gain allies in his attempts to destroy the black media. He had the postal authorities hold up their mailings; he used the Justice Department where he worked to conduct investigations of the publishers. After a year or two he took away much of its voice.
A war, a Depression, and another war kept the blacks at bay. The somnolent years of Ike, when no one seemed to notice the Dulles Brothers while holding high government positions maintained equally high interest in their law firm to form foreign policy and interventions to benefits the firm’s clients, kept the usual as the usual for blacks. The one exception was the Supreme Court which came out of its Rip Van Winkle-like nap of 50 years.
President Kennedy, a young man from a once despised religion, talked a different game offering a new vision. Blacks took hope – Martin Luther King added to it – as did Bobby Kennedy. All were struck down by assassins bullets. During their days the Black Power movement took root and lived after them for a bit until it too was assassinated, in great part by J. Edgar Hoover. But along with that came the Black is Beautiful movement. Whatever happened to that?
A Wikipedia article on that movement said in 1968 the gays took from it an idea for a slogan: “Gay is Good.” The Stonewall incident followed and the gays having decided to no longer accept second class citizens clawed and fought their way into gaining first class citizenship: it was a long fight that still has its skirmishes but also its outward showing as in the Gay Pride Parades demonstrating the great leap forward it has made.
The article on Stonewall notes it was not the only movement at the time. Others included “the African-American Civil Rights Movement, the Counterculture of the 1960s, and antiwar demonstrations.” Looking at these I suggest one movement is still drifting and that is that of the blacks.
I say this because of the statement of the young female student at Boston Latin who told how when the issue of slavery came up in class and as she was the only black there when the others all turned to look at her she was embarrassed or humiliated. I thought she should have felt proud of herself and her people.
The problem blacks have today is shown in the Blacks Lives Matter Movement and the Five Page Letter to the Boston Attorney General. They are looking to blame whites for their problems. Perhaps they are in some way but that will never really change because there will always be black problems (just as there will be white problems) and there will always be whites to blame (just as whites will blame blacks.)
My humble suggestion to blacks is stop blaming the whites. Start empowering yourselves as the gays have done. Revive the black is beautiful movement and take pride in being black. You have much to be proud about not the least is having survived so well in a country that often did not and still may not give you your due.
I have suggested we need a great museum in our nation’s capitol to show the horrors of slavery and Jim Crowism. To my pleasant surprise one is expected to open this year. It is about time.
Blacks should build on this – I recent wrote about the Irish pride parade and other parades in Boston. Why isn’t there a Black Pride Parade here or anywhere in the United States? Start there. Be black, beautiful and proud and all other things will come to you.