Return of an old, hateful tactic
Martin Luther King became a national leader as the Civil Rights Movement began to realize some success. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1954 in the case of Brown vs. Board of Education that racial discrimination in public schools was unconstitutional. The next year, King assumed a leadership role in the Montgomery bus boycott that continued from Dec. 5, 1955, until Dec. 20, 1956. King’s commitment to non-violence made him universally acceptable.
In 1964, the Civil Rights Act was passed and racial discrimination in employment, education and places of public accommodation then became unlawful. Then the Voting Rights Act became law in 1965. For many advocates of white supremacy, the loss of political power predicted by implementation of the right to vote made King’s non-violent leadership no longer tolerable. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
The discrimination and suppression of Blacks in America has never been non-violent. Black nonviolence had always been urged by whites, many of whom expected that Blacks would resort to violence in retaliation for their abusive treatment under racial discrimination. While assertive Blacks did not pursue vengeance, they fully accept the age-old principle of self-defense.
Fortunately, the Nation of Islam trains its members to be defensively protective of one another, as well as other members of the community. Despite journalistic assertions of the Muslims being responsible for violence, there is no record in support of this. However, Minister Farrakhan, the chief minister of the Nation of Islam, often speaks out forcibly against any assault, verbal or otherwise, against Black people.
There have been many opportunities for violence if Minister Farrakhan had so wished. Most significant was his call for a Million Man March in Washington, D.C. on October 16, 1995. More than a million Black men assembled in the nation’s capital at Farrakhan’s call, and there was not one reported incident of public disorder. It was established by satellite sensing that it was the largest group ever assembled on the National Mall.
While Farrakhan does not gratuitously resort to violence, he is outspoken against the insulting comments directed with hostility against Blacks. Many who cannot counter his response in the town square accuse Farrakhan of hate speech, although his talks are devoid of any instigation for Blacks to respond with violence.
The community should hope that the Nation of Islam remains on duty. Indeed, the hazard for Blacks remains high with a prominent Republican kidnapping immigrants seeking asylum and sending them without care and preparation to places deemed liberal sanctuaries.
The pressure for Blacks to attain freedom, justice and equality has induced bigots to revive an old practice. In the 1960s, it was common practice for white citizen councils to charter buses to send complaining Blacks to northern liberal cities. This is an early version of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ chartering of planes to fly immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard. According to reports, the Venezuelan immigrant passengers did not even know where the flight was headed.
Conditions for Blacks in America have much improved in the 60 years since the Southern white citizen councils essentially ostracized Blacks who were not appropriately submissive. It would be more difficult to accomplish that significantly today. But DeSantis’ effort indicates a level of hostility that should concern Blacks who are responsible for the care and safety of the people. The loss of power of bigoted whites over Blacks is now greater than it was in the days of Martin Luther King.