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The Return of Reconstruction

September 16, 2011

1865

In 1865 with reconstruction fully underway the rate of black illiteracy declined by a near 60%. As a result of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution, 1500 African Americans were in public office and we as a people were becoming educated, land stakeholders, and to many in white southern society economically self-sufficient. However, the golden age that appears African American’s appeared to be headed for would not stand.  Not with a federal government led by the likes of Rutherford B. Hayes (maybe the worst President history records).

Faced with the fearful discontent of the recently deposed confederates. Pres. Hayes pulled the federal troops from the embattled, but not humbled south. The result of this action is infamous. The advent of the Klu Klux Klan, the prevalence of lynching, beatings and domestic terrorism, and the inactment of “Jim Crow” laws: new state specific constitutions…states rights laws Gov. Perry, poll taxes, literacy tests, rigged district lines. All established to nullify African American power as a voting block and political/social change force.

Today, we are faced with many of these same realities. African Americans are holding political office in numbers (even the Presidency), but a disgruntled and discontent group of white society (Republican and Libertarian) that are demanding  small government (withdrawn federal oversight), state level accountability (states’ rights laws) and in general wish to return us to a pre-civil rights era of society by doing the same thing that Rutherford B. Hayes enabled. The minimization and marginalization of our power as a block.

States like South Carolina (a notoriously racist state that still fly’s the confederate banner)  has been pushing to have federal oversight of their elections abolished. States like Ohio and Michigan have proposed new and austere voter registration “reforms” aimed at minority and young voters, and further states like Texas have just redistricted their electorate making it harder for most aggreived portions of society to exercise their power in the voting booth.

All these measures prevail upon us to understand that we are facing another 1865. An embattled President, though surely NOT one like Rutherford B. Hayes. A weak Congress that may buckle to the pressure of an immoral majority, and certainly an undercover racist group (the Tea Party) at work in the states.

I hope that got your attention, because frankly each person of goodwill and who believes in the common good must make a decision:

  1. Decide to be counted! Each of us must commit to voting. The failures of the Democratic party to hold a 90 year stronghold in Brooklyn (demographics noted) and their loss in Arizona this week are bellwether in one aspect. The enemies of the poor and middle class are active and democrats, liberals, progressives, African Americans, Latinos, and all other minorities need to get their voting efforts going now. What was the key indicator for these two losses? The same as it was in 2010. LOW VOTER TURNOUT.
  2. Decide to be Seen! Too many of us are content to express our disdain for anti-populace politicos and extreme fringe elements of our democracy in anonymity. Movement or should I say progress requires active involvement. We the people (Black and White, Rich and Poor) marched together, arm in arm in the 50s and 60s to defy the forces of injustice and inequality. We shared in sacrifice. Young black men and women died along side young white men and women. Rich endured the police dogs and fire hoses along with the poor. But all showed up to attain what we knew then, and what we must remember now are our “inalienable rights“.
  3. Decide to Work Together! One of the tragic lessons we should be learning during this period of horrible gridlock in our legislature is we must have some level of unity. No, I do not advocate a capitulation of principle, but I do see the necessity to be able to come to the table with a determination to see mutually agreed upon progress. Otherwise we have nothing but intractable factions trying to hold their assumed territory.

We all better awaken to this reality soon..or be prepared to see another 1865.

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