By Marc Kelley
Syndicated by: Montana News
"Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it." These words were spoken by Winston Churchill in a speech he delivered to the House of Commons, in 1948. Since that time many others have uttered this quote; while still others, have mis-quoted the British statesman. Regardless of who is given credit for the quote, the message remains as clear today, as it was in 1948.
For many of us who love our country, believe in the Constitution and embrace the concept of law and order, hearing the abhorrent language coming from many of the top leaders of the Democrat Party, generate a wide range of feelings and emotions. It would be very easy to fall into the sin of believing in the concept of an eye for an eye. Yet, deep down, we know this behavior will only result, in all of us losing our sight.
In stark contrast to the message being pushed by the Democrats, that the people of the US are bigots and racists, with hate filled hearts and loathing ideology, the truth of this matter is, not only is this message not helpful to our country, it is not true. The citizens of the US are not a perfect people and Lord knows our imperfections have caused much pain and many have lost their lives, defending our freedoms and our unique system of governance. The US has prospered, not because of our shortcomings, but rather because we have learned from them.
I have never really been, what you would call a fan of Kanye West, his music or his flamboyant lifestyle; yet, he is indeed a "Man", entitled to think for himself, and by virtue of the First Amendment, entitled to speak his opinion. In contrast, those who disagree with Mr. Wests positions, are equally entitled to state their opinions, even if those comments reflect the racist ideology commonly found in US history, in the antebellum days of the Civil Rights Movement.
We have heard the terms "Jim Crow", and "Minstrel Show", thrown about by political pundits in the media; however, they fail to explain the meaning or how these terms came to be part of our lexicon. Many believe the term "Jim Crow" was first uttered in the post WW II period, which ushered in a time of accelerated social change in the US and ultimately resulted in the Civil Rights Movement. Hereto, this commonly held belief is false. The term "Jim Crow" actually harkens back 1828, when a White man, by the name of Thomas Dartmouth, introduced the concept of the "Minstrel Show", into American entertainment. White actors would appear, in what we now refer to as "blackface", a form of theatrical make-up, used to represent a caricature of a black person and perpetuate racial stereotypes. Dartmouth bastardized a traditional slave song, for the basis of his song and dance act entitled, "Jump Jim Crow." As the minstrel show became more and more popular, the concept made it into mainstream American culture and the term "Jim Crow" became a synonym and a derogatory epithet for African-Americans. The term "Jim Crow" became so engrained in American culture, it was used to define the laws enacted by White Southern Democrats in the Reconstruction period, following the US Civil War.
The legal concept embodied by "Jim Crow Laws", was that of "separate but equal", and this concept soon found its way into public facilities and transportation modes, which included trains and buses. Furthermore, these laws paved the way for the acceptance of institutionalized economic, educational and social disadvantages for African Americans. "Jim Crow Laws" would be defended by Democrat leaders, such as Henry Loeb III and George Wallace, both segregationists and Southern Democrats.
Many of you will immediately recognize the photos of Black men, carrying signs reading "I am a Man," while still many others, may not be familiar with the story behind this images. It is of the utmost importance we learn and remember why these images were captured; and, the price all Americans paid, because of racism. In 1968, the Mayor of Memphis, Tennessee was a man named Henry Loeb III. Loeb, was the grandson of German immigrant, who came to the US in the 1860's. Upon his arrival in the US, Loeb's Grandfather founded Loeb's Laundry, in Memphis. Capitalizing the labor of Black female workers, the Loeb Family became wealthy through their belief that Black people were second class citizens, not worthy of a decent wage or working conditions. Following the examples set by his Grandfather and Father, Henry Loeb III, entered the world of politics and was twice elected as Mayor of Memphis. During his second term as Mayor, Loeb gained national notoriety for opposing the demands of the largely Black sanitation workers, when they conducted a work strike demanding safe working conditions. The 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers strike was the direct result of the horrific deaths of two Memphis, sanitation workers. After complaining to Loeb about the antiquated, unsafe, garbage compactor trucks the men were forced to use, Loeb instructed the mechanics to uses any means necessary to keep the vehicles in service. On a cold and rainy February day, the vehicle being used by sanitation workers Echol Cole and Robert Walker, broke down and became unusable. Unable to escape the harsh conditions or seek shelter in the all White neighborhood in which the men were working, the two climbed into the hopper of their truck to gain what little shelter they could. As the pair climbed into the truck, faulting wiring caused the compactor to activate, crushing and killing the two men.
As the Sanitation Worker's Strike gained momentum, on February 21, 1968 a protest march was organized. Nearly one thousand striking workers began a march thru downtown Memphis. Facing Loeb's Police Department using brutal force in the form of tear gas, and billy clubs, more attention was brought to the workers cause. On February 24, 1968, while addressing the striking workers after yet another police assault on their protest, Reverend James Lawson made an impassioned speech stating:
"For at the heart of racism is the idea that a man is not a man, that a person is not a person. You are human beings. You are men. You deserve dignity."
This speech was in and of itself the impetus for the placards which would soon be worn by the striking workers, stating: "I AM a Man."
Early in April, 1968, and at the urging of Reverend James Lawson, Dr. Martin Luther King, traveled to Memphis and addressed the striking sanitation workers. Urging them not to engage in violence, lest the issue of injustice be ignored because the focus would be on that violence. Dr. King argued, peaceful demonstrations were the best course and the only way to guarantee their demands would be heard and answered. In what many historians consider to be Dr. King's most powerful and prophetic speech, Dr. King told the sanitation workers:
"Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live - a long life; longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."
Twenty-four hours later, Dr. King would be struck down by a snipers bullet, fired by a hateful coward, intent on using violence to strike down a great man of peace and of God. Not only did Dr. Kings last speech foretell of his own death, but it foretold of the publics reaction to violence. Dr. King's assassination intensified the strike and fearing the spread of the riots, which had already begun in Washington DC, then US Attorney General, Ramsey Clark urged Mayor Loeb to make concessions and bring an end to the strike…Loeb refused.
On April 8, 1968, over 40,000 people joined the Memphis Sanitation Workers in a completely silent march, led by Dr. King's widow, Coretta Scott King. The 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike lasted 2 months and 4 days and ended on April 16, 1968, with a settlement agreement; which included, union recognition, wage increases and safer working conditions
As we study history, we uncover the consequences of our mistakes. Of a smart person, it is said, they have learned from the mistakes of others, while the uninformed person commits the same mistakes over and over again, yet expects a different outcome. The Democrats continue to focus on violence and in 2018, their leaders Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, Maxine Waters and Corey Booker, are all calling for violence, as a means to effect a change in political ideology. The media, attacks Kanye West, calling his actions a "minstrel show" while at the same time telling the Black community, the Democrats will solve the problems of racism and hate.
The Democrats, have once again turned to violence as their chosen means of control. They have again chosen violence, out of the fear their iron grip on the Black community, is slowly slipping away. Without the support of the Black vote, the Democrats will never again regain the power, they so badly seek. This is the real reason we are once again seeing people like Kanye West, being portrayed as insignificant, mentally ill and a traitor to the Democrat Party. Surly, Dr. King is looking down in disbelief, as once again, people are being judged by the color of their skin and not the content of their character.