Tuskegee Revisited

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.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Black history should be annotated as Pre and Post Martin Luther King Jr. Before MLK, we were Colored, Negro and often boys, girls apes, coons, baboons, jigaboos and n****rs and lynched, murdered and bombed. After MLK we slowly became African American. I, personally, am Black. I resist being African American because it still looks, feels and quacks like 3/5 American.  But since MLK was able to get race on a “Visible National Stage” we have continued to evolve, to become more human albeit not more likable until recently.

The 60’s were an incredible time. There is significance in it being 100 years after the Civil War. What should have been peace and prosperity was cold war, McCarthyism, Korea, Viet Nam, J. Edger Hoover and chickens coming home to roost. In the midst of it all Martin Luther King Jr. stood for Civil Rights which really should be read “HUMAN RIGHTS”. MLK starts with dignity for the formerly enslaved but soon encompasses the poor, the downtrodden and the immigrants identified on the Statue of Liberty.

Nobody likes a reformer but everyone appreciates one when reform is proved. We have yet to perfect it. Today’s headlines are filled with Civil Rights or do you believe sexual harassment is about something else. It’s the other side of the same problem. Someone out there with money, power and influence doesn’t value you for who you are or takes advantage of the status they impose upon you. So, it has taken 50 years to get sexual lynching and reverse castration out in the open. It is one step closer to Civil Rights/Human Rights in America. I continue and will always applaud Martin Luther King Jr. for getting the conversation and movement unstuck and started in my lifetime.