By Roy Douglas Malonson, Chairman
After watching the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) recount history leading up to the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, I could not help by ask this question in 2014. Is History Repeating itself?
Events leading up to the historic March on Washington were monumental in demonstrating the power of people to rally around a common cause and present a common goal. In this case it was the promotion of voting rights and the protection of Black against Southern terrorists and police brutality going during that period in history.
I lived through that era, but seeing Jim Crow Segregation, open racism and discrimination on film reminded me that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
We MUST Understand a few facts about history repeating itself.
Black Voting rights are again under attack and being assaulted.
Things were suppose to get better with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, but in a short period of 50 years, I see history repeating itself.
Altering or taking away the voting rights of people or making it harder for them to cast their ballots in states using Voter Photo identification is the same old tricks warmed over. The goal is to dilute the voting power of the Majority minority, which is Blacks and Hispanics in Texas.
Coupled with that is the age old trick of gerrymandering and redistricting and using the courts to control congressional districts and maintain Republican strongholds.
History is repeating itself because we see the same racists “ghosts” resurrecting and bullying from the Post Reconstruction and Jim Crow Era of American history and politics.
The results of this nudging is setting up Black America for future challenges and assaults on our Black leaders in communities across America at every political level.
Once it starts, history will repeat itself from school boards to Black churches, mayor’s chairs, city councils, county commissioner chambers to state representatives.
Know Your History
It has been well documented in American history how some Whites have gone to great lengths to keep Blacks from voting or to dilute the Black vote so much that it discourages turnout and sends a message our voice and votes do not count or just don’t make much difference. In 1875, the U.S. Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, but there was a national backlash against civil rights, including lynching, threats and uproars in the South leading to the Supreme Court’s nullification of the Civil Rights Act in 1883. The pressure to keep Blacks from the polls occurred, because many Southern Blacks were active in politics after the Civil War. According to a PBS report on Jim Crow, after 1877, most lost the right to vote or to hold government positions and a year later Congress disallowed use of the Army to protect Black voters from intimidation and physical violence and threats at the polls. Congress later stopped using federal marshals to protect Black voters opening the door to intimidation and threats from Whites hating Blacks. After 1900, the assault on Black voting and civil rights continued at state, congressional and presidential levels. President Woodrow Wilson and congressional leaders cooperated to decrease the number of federal appointments to Blacks and ensure federal officials met White supremacists’ goals wanting to control and dominate Blacks in the south. The assault on African American civil and voting rights left many Blacks feeling worn, disfranchised and demoralized, because Blacks knew state and federal leaders were not concerned about the Black vote or the overall state of Black America. In 1964, the Voting Rights Act declared it illegal to use literacy or character tests as a requirement for voter registration and in counties and states. At last, Jim Crow was dead, or so we thought. Today, Whites are at it again, attempting to reduce the meaning of civil rights and voting legislation having slowly started the same Jim Crow pendulum swinging again to eventually affect our ability to make decisions, have equal representation and voice and enjoy the same kind of equal treatment and opportunities as Whites now enjoy in America.
This time instead of making sweeping wholesale changes at the top, racist Whites are using a “back door” approach from the bottom up and working to crumble and erode Black power at local and state levels, opening the door for Black voter apathy and “state’s rights” issues that were the lightning rod for starting the first Civil War in America.
Next week, Part 2, “We Must Understand Power!”