A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and the most widely known spokesperson for black working-class interests in the United States, met with Franklin D. Roosevelt and his administration to demand he sign an executive order banning discrimination against black workers in the defense industry. Randolph threatened to bring tens of thousands of marchers to Washington, D.C. On June 25, 1941, days before the march was to occur, Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, which barred government agencies and federal contractors from refusing employment in industries engaged in defense production on the basis of race, creed, color, or national origin. It was the first Presidential decree issued on race since Reconstruction. The order required the armed services, including the Marine Corps, to recruit and enlist African Americans.
From the earliest poems of Langston Hughes.
I do not hate you,
For your faces are beautiful, too.
I do not hate you,
Your faces are whirling lights of loveliness and splendor, too.
Yet why do you torture me,
O, white strong ones,
Why do you torture me?
BLACK LIVES MATTER
I realize now there is no DNA test that can tell me what line of African Kings I descended from. I wish I could say I came from Kush and my ancestors bathed in the confluence of the Blue and White Nile, but it ain’t going to happen and in the cosmic scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter. I’ve come to realize the most important thing I am is what I was yesterday and my firsts may come tomorrow. You cannot take that away from me.
I may or may not be a third generation something or other, but I am great in my eyes. I hope others see what I aspire to. I hope my head and heart see it that way, maybe you will too. I don’t assume to be perfect or even always good but I am the first and only me. I proclaim I am HUMAN as imperfect as that might be. I demand Human Rights, not civil rights, those meager things you give based on class and privilege, but the fundamental things that come with drawing breath. I realize those things are not universal or absolute but in this time and in this place I stand and say I AM A MAN and nothing you say or do not say will make that mutable.
So keep your history. I don’t need it. I will make history as I go. I don’t need accolades or letters after my name. I need not someone to mark my passing or carry on my name. Simply being me, I have planted a banner that will eventually tatter and fall, but it will have stood for me and I will have stood for something.