FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A New Book Probes Old Civil Rights Lessons

Why would anyone need to read another book, however handsomely produced, about the Civil Rights Movement?

After all, hundreds of black studies courses have been established in universities around the world; the U.S. Post Office has issued stamps with the visages of heroes ranging from Malcolm X to Paul Robeson to Martin Luther King; award winning television series have been produced including “Eyes on the Prize” and “Roots.”

The answer may well lie in a CD track produced and performed by a member of the hip-hop generation who calls himself JADAKISS. The track, called “Why?” asks:

Why does a n—– always want what they can’t get?

Why Denzel have to be crooked to get an Oscar?

Why all the young n—–rs in jail?

Why is the industry designed to keep you in debt?

Why that bullet have to hit that door?

The rapper concludes that the answers lie in his location–that since they have him “in the system” he can expect nothing less.

The need for the present generation of youth of all races to understand the cyclical nature of systemic change in our democracies points to the relevance of a new book, We Shall Overcome. Written by journalist Herb Boyd, the book is accompanied by two CDs that present the sounds of the civil rights movement, narrated by actors Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.

The book and aural discs capture in written words highlighted by moving photographs accompanied by spoken and sung words of participants in the freedom struggle the surges for access to voting booths, lunch counters, schoolroom desks and bus seats by the one group of humans designated by the Constitution as only sixty percent human.

Yet the real value of the multimedia production may lie in the heart of the listener who hears not only the passion of commitment of those who placed their bodies on the altar of service but listens to the sober organizational lessons learned and passed on to the new generations.

One learns why the upstanding character of Rosa Parks was as important as her willingness not to yield her seat in the decision of NAACP leaders to use her protest as a test case in starting the Montgomery bus boycott. The lawyers knew if she had any dirty laundry, the racist media would use it to distract from the cause.

The chasm between attempts to merge leaders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee(SNCC) with the Black Panther Party is similarly explored. The SNCC workers had much more discipline and organizational tutoring from seasoned leaders like Bayard Rustin and Martin Luther King. The Black Panthers were much less seasoned and inclined to angry, thoughtless actions.

These maturing insights have much relevance for current youths who have taken the nickname “son” in addressing each other. Perhaps this paternal reference has its roots in the lack of mentoring available for them in their upbringing.

The need for constant refinement of goals is heard on the first CD when the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth of the Birmingham Movement as he explains to his followers that after two days of assaults on marchers by police dogs that the police have stopped bringing out the dogs. He reminds the marchers that ‘they still have those dogs” so they can rightfully see progress.

This hunger for spiritual, intellectual, and organizational wisdom needed in these times may be satisfied in part by sharing the insights found in We Shall Overcome.

These victories and values are rendered even more critical when one considers the current youth infatuation with being “locked down” in prison as a step to claiming adulthood.

Billboards have recently sprung up in major cites promoting a new brand of pants called “State Property.” The ad shows seven young black men surrounded by what appears to be some kind of holding pen. The inference is that these young men are now wards of some type of penal institution. Why would an aware descendent of the jailed descendents of the 60’s wish to wear pants proclaiming him as “state property?”

The answer may well lie in the musings of Professor Cornell West who reflects in his latest book, Democracy Matters that the pervasive depression and disaffection of youth, the flight of so many adults into mindless escapism.the plunge into frenetic consumerism to offset our restlessness all reveal the fissures in our life.”

The billboard promoting the State Property brand of pants also encourages the viewer to spend his or her hand-earned dollars on admission to a forthcoming movie called “State Property II. This movie probably does not mention Martin Luther King or Fannie Lou Hamer or U.S. Representative John Lewis-all of who endured severe beatings while they were “state property” to allow the youth market to sit in integrated movie theatres and eat meals afterwards at any counter they desire.

Professor West hails the necessity for a questioning mind such as JADAKISS’s as the key to achieving what James Baldwin saw as a “kingdom new of making it honorable and worthy of life.” The questions that consume youth and propel them to look for mentors can be addressed by assessing the lessons of We Shall Overcome.

Author Herb Boyd will read from his book on December 16 at the Nubian Book Store in New York City at 125th Street and Fifth Avenue between 6 and 8 p.m. The reading and following question and answer session will be screened at a later date on the C Span television station.

FREDERICK B. HUDSON is a columnist for A Good Black Man. He can be reached at: FHdsn@aol.com

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail