MUHAMMAD: 50 Years Later, Blacks Still Waiting for Justice

A statue memorializing the Confederacy is spray-painted with the message "Black Lives Matter" several days after a shooting at a historic black church Sunday, June 21, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. Police spokesman Charles Francis said city workers used a tarp to cover up the graffiti marking the stone pedestal beneath the statue. He said he didn't know when the graffiti was spray-painted there, but said it would be cleaned off. (AP Photo/WCSC-TV, Philip Weiss)

According to my always-correct, precise calculations, 1967 was the last chance America might have voluntarily been able to achieve racial integration.

Yes, the nonviolent civil rights movement had migrated from the South to the North and West, with a deadly progression: Harlem, 1964; Watts, 1965; Baltimore, Dayton, Milwaukee, 1966; and then Detroit and Newark in 1967 — truly a tipping point.

By 1968, the nation lurched to the right and the time for accomodation officially ended, though the aftereffects would ripple out until Barack Obama’s presidency, and the resultant “alt-right” snapback.

After the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 and the ascension of President Richard Nixon and his racially-tinged “law and order” politics, the country’s success in integrating schools nationwide was still in the single digits. That was 14 years after the Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education desegregation decision.

Despite fierce opposition, the effects of the civil rights movement spread diversity, and multiple achievements across all disciplines, for tens of thousands of qualified, talented black folks who got an opportunity to contribute rather than a racial rebuke, and the contributions have been enormous. There are more than 50 black members of the House and Senate, hundreds of mayors, thousands of judges, police chiefs, and yet the problems they are challenged with are the same problems black people were confronting 50 years ago.

We have been, in my humble opinion, on the correct road to get to freedom, justice and equality — we have simply been proceeding in the wrong direction.

Today, like before, there is a racial backlash. But in addition, there is resentment for the comeuppance of women — asserting themselves like never before on the coattails of civil rights movement energy. Gender politics have also taken hold in the wake of civil rights gains. Even drug “abuse,” now glamorized as an “opioid crisis,” has garnered respectability, while black people remain America’s despised and rejected … killed by cops every week … juries acquit killer cops…

So what exactly are we deliberating in 2017? It can’t be the viability of racial integration as some long-overdue solution to America’s racial dilemma.

Back in 1961, Nation of Islam Minister Malcolm X told radio interviewer Eleanor Fischer that at the rate integraion was proceeding in public schools, it would take another 100 years just to get integration in education. That was 56 years ago! And the status of school integration today is as if there had never been a Suupreme Court decision, mandating desegregation.

More than 50 percent of black students today attend schools whose populations are 90 percent black. Are we going to plod, wrongheadedly in the wrong direction until the 100-year mark, before we determine that “self-determination” is in our best interest.

“What the white man in America needs to realize is there’s a new thinking among black people today which makes them not willing to sit around and wait for five years to get this problem solved, much less a hundred years,” said Brother Malcolm.

Make it plain, Brother Malcolm!

What is being realized in 2017 America, however, is The Revenge of White Guys. Ku Klux Klan rallies by armed terrorists in the open. These wicked people believe they can once again make black people cower back into submission. Sorry, guys. That dog won’t hunt.

There can be no solution to the challenges facing America without justice for black folks. I take comfort in that certainty.

Meanwhile, here we are trying to make a “deal,” or at least be at the table or in the room when the deal is struck. Fifty years after 1967, 63 years after 1954, still waiting.

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About Askia Muhammad 69 Articles
WPFW News Director Askia Muhammad is also a poet, and a photojournalist. He is Senior Editor for The Final Call newspaper and he writes a weekly column in The Washington Informer.
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