History books are replete with story after story about our ancestors being transported across the oceans chained in the bowels of slave ships. Upon arriving in the western hemisphere they became the property of another man who treated them worse than his animals. The slave masters raped our women, castrated the men and sold other members of our families to other slavers. As the result of the Civil War, slaves in theory were free. In the year of 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
This was our first step of what would be a journey of centuries. There was mass confusion, some did not understand what being free meant, and others were extremely reluctant to leave old Massa. We had spent every day of our lives taking care of others, but now we had to feed ourselves, clothes ourselves and house ourselves. Those racists who never saw slaves as people now were absolutely outraged and their hatred was demonstrated by the unbelievable actions of organizations such as the White Citizen Councils and the KKK.
History records that there untold numbers of Black men and women who sought to make changes, and there have always been unnamed soldiers who made a difference. I will just mention two outstanding Black male warriors of that time frame: Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois. These two giants took totally different approaches to resolving our problems, but there was never a question about their resolve. Over the years there have always been comparisons between great men. Dubois sought to use the ballot box and truly believed it was the fastest road to equality. Booker T. Washington believed if we honed our skills we would be perceived as being equal.
In the late 1800s the U.S. Supreme court made ruling that eliminated all of the political gains Blacks had made and W.E.B. Dubois founded the National Negro Committee, which would begin to address the multitude of problems that blocked Blacks from becoming first class citizens. However in the hometown of President Abraham Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois, in 1908 a race riot flared up where 30 Blacks were killed and numbers imprisoned. Now it was time for a more militant approach and the newly founded organization—the NAACP—was born.
The overwhelming majority of readers are familiar with the historic accomplishments of the NAACP, and those of us who understand that we as a people have come a long way, but in 2012 we still have a long way to go. There still exists tragically in America in 2012 a need for a viable strong functioning NAACP. It is very disappointing to me personally that not one Black man was interested in running for the local NAACP presidency in Nov. 2012. However Connie Parker has proven over the years with her work in the NAACP that she is devoted, committed, dedicated, concerned and courageous—qualities a president must have.
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(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum Page.)