But it bothered me not because I don't care for Dr. King but if you ignorantly went by these documentaries you'd think there was no Human Rights Movement, no Civil Rights Movement, no movement towards Social and Economic Justice before Dr. King came on the scene. It's as if the movement started in 1954.
Dr. King great as he was did not operate in a vacuum. He did not originate alot of the tactics that he is well known for. He may have introduced them to a mass movement, he may have improved or even dare say I....
Perfected some but it is dis ingenious, unfair and dangerous to constantly credit Dr. King and rob the others of their place. So I'm going to speak on a few and provide links where I am able so that you can check it out for yourself. Cool?
Let's talk about Bayard Rustin.
Bayard Rustin! He organized the March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs where Dr. King gave his famous "I have a Dream" speech. Rustin studied Henry David Thoreau and had travelled to India to study Gandhian Non Violent Resistance Techniques from Gandhi! He was organizing and teaching these techniques years before and in fact taught them to Dr. King and many in the struggle. He had also been on the front lines fighting for the Scottsboro Boys earlier.
His candor about his sexuality is one of the reasons he is not known widely but he was instrumental in the founding of the Congress of Racial Equality. (James L. Farmer Jr.) He organized with A. Philip Randolph. (President Brotherhood of Sleep Car Porters) He went to Prison for resisting the draft, as a practicing Quaker he contributed to the Pacifist movement.
Rustin deserves a proper place and a setting in talks about the struggle.
Next, let's talk about Vernon Johns!
Dr. Vernon Johns!
Didn't Kareem Abdul Jabaar produce a movie about him?
Yeah, James Earl Jones starred in the lead role.
Dr. Johns was speaking out against segregation and Black and White folks complicity in keeping the American Apartheid System alive.
What about Dr. Ralph Abernathy?
Dr. Ralph Abernathy! He was one of the Generals of the Nonviolent Resistance Movement with Dr. King!
You mean that dude who confirmed that Dr. King wasn't always faithful to Mrs. Scott-King?
No, I mean the dude who turned Dr. King on to Black Birmingham, helped organize the movement, went to jail and took just as many lumps as Dr. King who happened to confirm what we already had known for thirty years. That dude!
What about the real Rosa Parks!
The real Rosa Parks Mista Jaycee?
The myth paints her as an old woman who just got tired and didn't give up her seat.
The real Rosa Parks and her Husband Mr. Parks were both activists long before the Montgomery Bus Boycott. They each taught classes in NAACP on resistance. It was a tactic that the students were going to use. One of her students Claudette Colburn ( I hope I got the name right, forgive me if I didn't) used the tactic one week before on a bus and was arrested.
The Church leadership chose not to use Claudette as the face of the movement cause she was a Single Unwed Mother. Mrs. Parks however was a young Woman, Married and worked in the local NAACP office. She took up the mantle a week later and refused to give up her seat! This time the Black Church Community had person with an untarnished reputation.
If Mrs. Parks's resistance had failed someone else from her class would have stepped up. They had made a plan and had tactics.
What about E.D. Nixon? He financed Mrs. Parks bail. You had to own a house in order to post bail for someone in Birmingham at that time. You couldn't just pass the hat. Mr. Nixon was one of the few Black people that owned their property. He was very important logistically for Dr. King and the Movement yet he is unrecognized today.
What about the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee. Stokley Carmichael and H. Rap Brown were both members. They both walked the front lines. Stokley did love and respect Dr. King talking tactics with him long after he became a spokesman for the Black Panthers and coined the phrase Black Power. Remember the Panthers got the idea for their symbol from the Voting Committee of Lourdes County, Alabama that Stokley helped to organize. The mascot was a Black Panther! The Southern Democratic Leadership of Alabama used a White Rooster as their symbol.
They were registering voters, doing freedom rides and sit ins before Dr. King intersected with them. Why aren't their views in relation to Dr. King discussed? The Movement didn't start in 54. It didn't end with Obama!
It's an ongoing struggle and I fear that by neglecting Carmichael, Brown, Nixon, Parks, Abernathy, Johns, Adam Clayton Powell and Rustin. We are losing vital information that will keep us from making crucial mistakes as we seize the future.
BE Careful! BE Mindful! BE Prayerful!