Love to the Family and the Black Community of Benton Harbor. I see at last you have divorced yourself from NAACP. That is a great thing.
I feel this way because the story carries me back to the 1920's and the NAACP assault on Marcus Garvey. This assault went as far as name calling, color coating and mental debasing. The rising Black fair skinned middle class was asserting its inherited power and control over the unfortunate darkies.
The fair skinned class who stood against Marcus Garvey was schooled in the best of white colleges and universities and therefore qualified on color and intellectual training to oversee the bulgeoning Black majority underclass.
My mood shifts to dark waters in the 1930's as the leader of the NAACP Black intellectuals finds himself in trouble with those he deemed his friends. Telling the truth is not a middle class thing Dr. W.E. B DuBois would discover in his early 70"s as he was being pressured to bow to white power or leave. Thanks to the African heavens he left. One lesson learned, even if, learned late is productive.
The story does not halt here. We see the new victim leave hastily in the 1940's. Jumping happily from the good ship NAACP unrelenting in his resistance against the authority of white leadership. "The man who killed Jim Crow" Charles Hamilton Houston, Dean of the Howard University Law School and father of the movmeent to engineer segregation out of US law. Its Houston who emerges as the creator of a legal vanguard with the title NAACP Legal Defense Fund. This group with Constance Motley, Attorney Bob Carter, and Thurgood Marshall and others will do battle against American Apartheid.
The next victims come from Rev. Chavis territory. These are the Black Union women of Winston
Salem, North Carolina. These unsung heroines banned together and organized a powerful union movement against the Tobacco companies.
They used their organizing skills to build an organizing drive for NAACP. The membership NAACP drive increases membership to powerful numbers making North Carolina one of the largest NAACP membership areas for the nation. But not for long.
I can see the Sister leaders now gathering on their picket lines, in the union hall and at NAACP meeting room. They stand hand in hand singing a new version of an old African hymn. Their voices rise filling the air with dignity and promise, "We shall overcome, we shall overcome..."
Every Black in the room, on the picket lines joined in singing the old song with a new pronoun. Where there once was "I" came "we" as they banned together to show their support for the strike. (By the way Pete Seger has taken credit for bringing this old music to the civil rights movement of 1950's and 1960's). Apparently Seger did not understand that there was no distinction between Black resistance to oppression whether labor, civil rights, civil disobedience or struggle for the right to vote). For whites in the South (nation) Black protest in any from is resistance to white authority.
Before the struggle of these women could fully saturate the Black South with a message of 'no more full time work for no part time pay' they were entangled in one of the most dangerous red baiting campaigns of the McCarthy era. The blow to the strike also devastated the NAACP membership reducing it from thousands to a little more than 500.
This assault on Black women labor came from the same folk who led the campaign against Garvey, DuBois and Charles Hamilton Houston, none other than the NAACP white led leadership. We must not forget that NAACP opened under white leadership with our highest placed leader, Dr. DuBois, in charge of the NAACP Crisis Magazine.
It did not stop here. We can follow it across the years through horrific wars on staff, chapter leadership. These wars paints the organization as a tool of the US government authority.
It November 21, 1961. We gather at the Masonic Temple in Jackson, Mississippi for the South East Regional Convention under the leadership of Ruby Hurley. Present is the postman who survived assassin assault while protesting the sins of segregation in Georgia. He is to be our keynote speaker.
The air is filled with hope and promise for change. This had been a year with "Freedom Riders" creating new drama followed by heightened race tensions. All the tension came from whites who were poised for lynching and assassinations.
In September, Blacks in Mississippi had been witness to the violent white anger when Rev. Herbert Lee, President of Amite County NAACP was shot gunned to death in front of the Amite County Court House at Liberty, Mississippi. He was violently shot to death by a member of the Mississippi State legislature because Rev. Lee dared to stand for human justice and the right of Black folk to vote.
Lee's wife made an appeal to NAACP for assistance. The group is still silent. Medgar Evers had no valid explanation. And now at 7:00 PM on a calm evening in Jackson before a packed audience NAACP convenes. I was mistress of ceremony, young and unskilled.
My lack of skill came full term when Medgar opened up the award section of the program. Imagine my excitement at receiving on behalf of the North Jackson NAACP Youth Council the Youth award for the year. Yes, my ego was up yonder as President and founder,
Now, lean closer, I need for you to hear the rest of this story. Medgar is ready to present the two major awards for the evening. The first is to go to Clyde Kennard, former president of the Jones County NAACP. Kennard was serving ten years in Parchman Penitentiary on a framed up charge of stealing a few sacks of chicken feed after he made application to the University of Southern Mississippi.
Stay with me. Don't move. Medgar opens the letter. His hands begin to tremble. He desperately tries to compose himself by taking a deep breath. Then he shares its content. Clyde Kennard refused to accept an NAACP award because the group had not defended its faithful president in his most dire hour of need. Now Kennard had been behind bars since 1957 or 1958 and had to tell his good friend that he wanted nothing else to do with NAACP. It was made plain that his love for Medgar had not faded.
Don't move just yet. The evening is still young. I sit like a mannequin still uncertain what I should do as Mistress of ceremony. Eyes are on Medgar and eyes are on me as Medgar open the second letter. This letter is from the wife of the assassinated Rev. Herbert Lee. This time we watch as Medgar's skin flashes fire red. His eyes stretch and he reads a word and breaks into tears.
The letter is completed by another. Medgar folds in pain. I am unable to move. But our guest speaker moves quickly to the podium. Grabs me by the hand and breaks into an old African spiritual which so fitted the moment. "Sweet home, Lord I wonder if I will ever get home,,,,,,,Before this time another year, I may be dead and gone, but I wonder if I will ever get home."
Mrs. Herbert Lee was home with her 9 children in Amite County. Home with nothing but anger because NAACP gave no support to her and her children. She expressed in tough words what she felt. The widow of Rev. Herbert Lee wanted no part of any award from NAACP.
Now you can relax. I needed to share a bit of NAACP history which I know you probably had not heard. Our fight is for the development of a "Freedom Agenda for the 21st Century" not with the a dead agency.
It seems I must have read in the Christian bible some where, correct me if I am wrong, "Let the dead bury the dead". We the living have the work of arming the living with fighting tools and showing them how to use them skillfully with much success for Africans everywhere.
There is no news here Rev. Pinkney. My question for all of us freedom fighters is when will we ever learn that a wolf in any dress or form is a dangerous dog.
Most of us come to the NAACP because its an organization in place. We come with our hopes, dreams and commitment to build a powerful vehicle that will carry us to victory over imperial forces. But a las not so! We must build from scratch a new people and organization with the will to fight all enemies no matter what shade of color or form.
I leave you now in the spirit of the Black Sisters of Winston Salem, North Carolina, "We shall overcome, we shall overcome....." hopefully soon.
Got your back. Fight on.
In Lasting Solidarity,
Colia L. Clark, former Special Assistant to Medgar W. Evers ( A Real Warrior for Our Rights)
FIRING OF BEN CHAVIS COMMENT
I remember The Wilmington 10. If you didn't,look it up on the net.
Take note of Ben Chavis"entrapment"by a woman. It's shades of What they did to Marcus Mosiah Garvey.The NAACP was started by a Jew named Jacob Shiff as a way to control black independence movements.It's time for black Africans to throw off the yoke of people determining who they say are our enemies.If you didn't know this fact,look it up on the net.