Civil rights leaders of the 1960s are heralding the Jena 6 protests as the beginning of a new era in the struggle for racial equality and justice. Tens of thousands have descended like a cleansing flood on the small Louisiana town plagued in recent times with the ugly scourge of racism, symbolized by the nooses hanging from a tree claimed for “whites only.”
But is the Jena 6 Protest really the opening salvo of a new age of aggressive defense of Black African-Americans’ economic and political rights? Or, is this simply more business-as-usual? As with all such claims, the proof is in the execution: will the new generation of Black community leaders aim for new heights and move in a new direction or will they stick with the same old same old?
An objective analysis of the stalled Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s shows that the problem the movement ran into in the 1970s, causing it to peter out, came as a result of its being swallowed by the Democratic Party, chewed up and spit out. In the Democratic Party’s process of mastication, a small minority of educated, middle-class Blacks were swallowed whole, but the Black working class, the great majority of Black African Americans, were spit out like they were just so much indigestible matter. There’s an old saying among activists for social and economic justice: “The Democratic Party is the graveyard of social movements!” That was certainly the case with the struggle for Civil Rights.
The Democratic Party, the party founded by the Slavocracy, the party of Jim Crow and the “Dixiecrats,” was also the party in which the Civil Rights leaders of the 1960s have buried the movement that made them nationally recognized public figures.
How did it happen? The Democrats held out the temptation of power for a few, positions as big-city mayors and aldermen, members of Congress and even a state governorship or two.
In other words, they were bought off with the temptation of power in exchange for demobilizing the movement. But the great majority of Black African Americans have not participated in this upward mobility program. In fact, the average person in the Black community today has a lower standard of living and quality of life than 40 or 50 years ago when the Civil Rights Movement was at its height, and what else should be expect when this oppressed community has been relegated to depending on the likes of Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, the “Aw Shucks,” big-grinned salesmen for the do-nothing Democratic Party.
Rev. Jessie Jackson seems to have woken from this power-induced stupor, at least long enough to call out Barack Obama for the faker he is after the Black candidate for the Democratic Party presidential nomination refused to join tens of thousands of his fellow citizens in the Jena 6 protests. Rev. Jackson says Obama “is acting like a white man,” according to published press reports. Has Rev. Jackson recovered his senses and returned to the role he once played as an important critic of the Democratic Party’s consistent failure to fight for Black economic prosperity and political rights? We can only hope.
And that leads me to what I think is the most important lesson we can take from the situation in Jena and the national response: we can’t predict the future of this new justice movement like Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton attempt. We have no crystal balls that tell the future. However, the power “we the people” do have is to make the future, to mold it, to bend it to our collective will. We have the choice to erect a truly independent aggressive new campaign for economic and political rights for all, regardless of ethnicity or creed. It’s up to you and me and the millions of our fellow citizens who know the unfair system professional politicians of the Democratic and Republican parties created is keeping working people of all colors and creeds down.
It’s time to bring an end to this bi-partisan reverse Robin Hoodism that has left us with the rich getting richer and everyone else getting poorer. Yes, let’s hope this is the beginning of a new era for social justice! And let’s realize that we can make it so if we refuse to be fooled again by the tricksters who pose as our friends while driving the knives into our backs.