December 24, 2021

MLK’s Missing Legacy: Woke Warrior Part 2

Mike Green
Contributor to The Narrative Matters
Photo By:Mike Green

“For the first time in the long and turbulent history of the nation, almost one thousand cities were engulfed in civil turmoil, with violence trembling just below the surface."

Just in time for the King’s bithday next month, we are all things Dr. Martin Luther King, bought to you by our contributing writer Mike Green.

Explosively, America’s third revolution – the Negro Revolution – had begun.

“For the first time in the long and turbulent history of the nation, almost one thousand cities were engulfed in civil turmoil, with violence trembling just below the surface.”

King’s legacy, from 1963 to his untimely death by assassination in 1968, which Coretta Scott King characterized as retribution for King’s priority focus on economic equity, was unequivocally his leadership of the Negro Revolution. The significance of this revolution cannot be overstated. Certainly, the federal Department of Labor’s division of policy and research took it seriously. In 1965, it published a report titled, “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action.” The first chapter of that report is titled, “The Negro American Revolution.”

The Negro American revolution is rightly regarded as the most important domestic event of the postwar period in the United States.

Nothing like it has occurred since the upheavals of the 1930’s which led to the organization of the great industrial trade unions, and which in turn profoundly altered both the economy and the political scene. There have been few other events in our history – the American Revolution itself, the surge of Jacksonian Democracy in the 1830’s, the Abolitionist movement, and the Populist movement of the late 19th Century – comparable to the current Negro movement.

There has been none more important.

The Negro American revolution holds forth the prospect that the American Republic, which at birth was flawed by the institution of Negro slavery, and which throughout its history has been marred by the unequal treatment of Negro citizens, will at last redeem the full promise of the Declaration of Independence.

Explosively, America’s third revolution – the Negro Revolution – had begun.

“For the first time in the long and turbulent history of the nation, almost one thousand cities were engulfed in civil turmoil, with violence trembling just below the surface.”

King’s legacy, from 1963 to his untimely death by assassination in 1968, which Coretta Scott King characterized as retribution for King’s priority focus on economic equity, was unequivocally his leadership of the Negro Revolution. The significance of this revolution cannot be overstated. Certainly, the federal Department of Labor’s division of policy and research took it seriously. In 1965, it published a report titled, “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action.” The first chapter of that report is titled, “The Negro American Revolution.”

The Negro American revolution is rightly regarded as the most important domestic event of the postwar period in the United States.

Nothing like it has occurred since the upheavals of the 1930’s which led to the organization of the great industrial trade unions, and which in turn profoundly altered both the economy and the political scene. There have been few other events in our history – the American Revolution itself, the surge of Jacksonian Democracy in the 1830’s, the Abolitionist movement, and the Populist movement of the late 19th Century – comparable to the current Negro movement.

There has been none more important.

The Negro American revolution holds forth the prospect that the American Republic, which at birth was flawed by the institution of Negro slavery, and which throughout its history has been marred by the unequal treatment of Negro citizens, will at last redeem the full promise of the Declaration of Independence.

Note the central thesis of the opening to the first chapter of the federal report, which compares the Negro Revolution to other historic events in U.S. history: “there has been none more important.” Given this unequivocal statement, how is it that generations of White Americans, and all other racial demographics, including Black children, have been systemically denied this knowledge?
Some may be tempted to offer an explanation or plausible rationale for the inexcusable dismissal of the most important movement in the history of the United States. But President Lyndon B. Johnson will not allow it. His own words provide the premise for the core problems that precipitated the rise of the Negro Revolution.
Strong statements from LBJ’s 1965 State of the Union address are quoted in the report, wherein he referred directly to the hostile backlash across White America taking place in the aftermath of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
The effort, no matter how savage and brutal, of some State and local governments to thwart the exercise of those rights is doomed. The nation will not put up with it — least of all the Negroes.
In this new period the expectations of the Negro Americans will go beyond civil rights. Being Americans, they will now expect that in the near future equal opportunities for them as a group will produce roughly equal results, as compared with other groups.
This is not going to happen. Nor will it happen for generations to come unless a new and special effort is made.
There are two reasons.
First, the racist virus in the American blood stream still afflicts us: Negroes will encounter serious personal prejudice for at least another generation.
Second, three centuries of sometimes unimaginable mistreatment [by White Americans] have taken their toll on the Negro people.
The harsh fact is that as a group, at the present time, in terms of ability to win out in the competitions of American life, they are not equal to most of those groups with which they will be competing.
Individually, Negro Americans reach the highest peaks of achievement. But collectively, in the spectrum of American ethnic and religious and regional groups, where some get plenty and some get none, where some send eighty percent of their children to college and others pull them out of school at the 8th grade, Negroes are among the weakest. 

To be continued on next blog.

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