White House In Black and White


By Harold Bell

For all most 3 years we have heard over and over again President Barack Obama say “I am the President of all the people.”  Most of his supporters have become his echo and can be heard saying the exact same thing!

Therefore, they claim he cannot be seen publicly making life better for the poor, the down trodden and people of color in America.  My question; Why should he be any different from any other President?

Listed below are some Presidents who blazed a Civil Rights trail while in office to improve the lives of black people while white during my life time.

It has been often been said “If you want to hide something from a black person put it in a book.”  We can now add the World Wide Internet.  The information gathered in this blog can be found there.

President Harry Truman

A 1947 report by the Truman administration titled To Secure These Rights presented a detailed ten-point agenda of civil rights reforms. In February 1948, the president submitted a civil rights agenda to Congress that proposed creating several federal offices devoted to issues such as voting rights and fair employment practices. This provoked a storm of criticism from Southern Democrats in the run up to the national nominating convention.

But Truman refused to compromise, saying: “My forebears were Confederates … but my very stomach turned over when I had learned that Negro soldiers, just back from overseas, were being dumped out of Army trucks in Mississippi and beaten.”  In retirement however, Truman was less progressive on the issue. He described the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches as silly, stating that the marches would not “accomplish a darned thing.”

Instead of addressing civil rights on a case-by-case need, Truman wanted to address civil rights on a national level. He made three executive orders that eventually became a structure for future civil rights legislation.

The first Executive Order 9981 came in 1948, is generally understood to be the act that desegregated the armed services. This was a milestone on a long road to desegregation of the Armed Forces.

After several years of planning, recommendations and revisions between Truman, the Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity and the various branches of the military, Army units became racially integrated. This process was also helped by the pressure of manpower shortages during the Korean Waras replacements to previously segregated units could now be of any race.

The second order, also in 1948, made it illegal to discriminate against persons applying for civil service positions based on race. The third executive order, in 1951, established Committee on Government Contract Compliance (CGCC). This committee ensured that defense contractors to the armed forces could not discriminate against a person because of their race.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt

The New Deal was a series of economic programs implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1936. They were passed by the U.S. Congress during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call the “3 Rs”: Relief, Recovery, and Reform. That is, Relief for the unemployed and poor; Recovery of the economy to normal levels; and Reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression.

His wife Eleanor became an important connection for his administration to the African-American population during the segregation era.  During Franklin’s terms as President, despite his need to placate southern sentiment, she was vocal in her support of the African-American civil rights movement.

Mrs. Roosevelt was outspoken in her support of Marian Anderson in 1939 when the black singer was denied the use of Washington’s Constitution Hall and was instrumental in the subsequent concert held on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The first lady played a role in racial affairs when she appointed Mary McLeod Bethune as head of the Division of Negro Affairs

President John F. Kennedy

The turbulent end of state-sanctioned racial discrimination was one of the most pressing domestic issues of the 1960s. The Supreme Court of the United States had ruled in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. Many schools, especially in southern states, did not obey the Supreme Court’s decision. Segregation had also been prohibited by the Court at other public facilities (e.g. buses, restaurants, theaters, courtrooms, bathrooms, and beaches) but continued nonetheless.

Kennedy verbally supported racial integration and civil rights; during the 1960 campaign he telephoned Coretta Scott King, wife of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., who had been jailed while demonstrating for equal access of African Americans; Kennedy secured the early release of King, which drew additional black support to his candidacy.

Nevertheless President Kennedy believed the grass roots movement for civil rights would anger many Southern whites and make it more difficult to pass civil rights laws in Congress, which was dominated by conservative Southern Democrats, and he distanced himself from it.  He also was more concerned with other issues early in his presidency, e.g. the “Bay of Pigs” fiasco and Southeast Asia. As articulated by his brother Robert, the administration’s early priority was to “keep the president out of this civil rights mess.”

As a result, many civil rights leaders viewed Kennedy as lukewarm, especially concerns related to the Freedom Riders who organized an integrated public transportation effort in the south.  They were repeatedly met with violence by whites, including law enforcement both federal and state.

Kennedy assigned federal marshals to protect the Freedom Riders as an alternative to using federal troops or uncooperative FBI agents.  Robert Kennedy, speaking for the president, urged the Freedom Riders to “get off the buses and leave the matter to a peaceful settlement in the courts.

In September 1962, James Meredith enrolled at the University of Mississippi, but was prevented from entering. Attorney General Robert Kennedy responded by sending some 400 U. S. Marshall while President Kennedy reluctantly federalized and sent 3,000 troops after the situation on campus turned violent. Campus riots left two dead and dozens injured, but Meredith did finally enroll in his first class. On November 20, 1962, Kennedy signed Executive Order 11063, prohibiting racial discrimination in federally supported housing or “related facilities.”

In early 1963, Kennedy related to Martin Luther King, Jr., about the prospects for civil rights legislation: “If we get into a long fight over this in Congress, it will bottleneck everything else, and we will still get no bill.”  However, civil rights clashes were very much on the rise that year.

His brother Robert and Ted Sorenson pressed Kennedy to take more initiative on the legislative front.  On June 11, 1963, President Kennedy intervened when Alabama Governor George Wallace blocked the doorway to the University of Alabama to stop two African American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from attending.

Wallace moved aside only after being confronted by Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach and the Alabama National Guard, which had just been federalized by order of the President, and which had hours earlier been under Wallace’s command.

That evening Kennedy gave his famous civil rights address on national television and radio, launching his initiative for civil rights legislation – to provide equal access to public schools and other facilities, and greater protection of voting rights. His proposals became part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The day ended with the murder of N.A.A.C.P. leader, Megar Evers, at his home in Mississippi. As the president had predicted, the day after his TV speech, and in reaction to it, House Majority leader Carl Albert called to advise him that his two year signature effort in Congress to combat poverty in Appalachia had been defeated, primarily by the votes of Southern Democrats and Republicans.

Kennedy signed the executive order creating the Presidential Commission on the status of Women on December 14, 1961.  Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt led the commission. The Commission statistics revealed that women were also experiencing discrimination; their final report documenting legal and cultural barriers was issued in October 1963.

Earlier, on June 10, 1963, Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act of 1963, a federal law amending the Fair Labor Standards Act, aimed at abolishing wage disparity based on sex.

Over a hundred thousand, predominantly African Americans gathered in Washington for the civil rights March on Washington for jobs and freedom on August 28, 1963. Kennedy feared the March would have a negative effect on the prospects for the civil rights bills in Congress, and declined an invitation to speak.

He turned over some of the details of the government’s involvement to the Dept. of Justice, which channeled hundreds of thousands of dollars to the six sponsors of the March, including the N.A.A.C.P. and Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). To ensure a peaceful demonstration, the organizers and the President personally edited speeches which were inflammatory and agreed the March would be held on a Wednesday and would be over at 4:00 pm Thousands of troops were placed on standby.

Kennedy watched King’s speech on TV and was very impressed. The March was considered a “triumph of managed protest”, and not one arrest relating to the demonstration occurred.  Afterwards, the March leaders accepted an invitation to the White House to meet with Kennedy and photos were taken.  Kennedy felt the March was a victory for him as well and bolstered the chances for his civil rights bill.

Nevertheless, the struggle was far from over. Three weeks later, a bomb exploded on a Sunday at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham; at the end of the day six children had died in the explosion and aftermath.  As a result of this resurgent violence, the civil rights legislation underwent some drastic amendments that critically endangered any prospects for passage of the bill, to the outrage of the President.

Kennedy called the congressional leaders to the White House and by the following day the original bill, without the additions, had enough votes to get it out of the House committee.

In 1963, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover who hated civil-rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.,   and viewed him as an upstart troublemaker, presented the Kennedy Administration with allegations that some of King’s close confidants and advisers were communists. The President concerned that the allegations, if made public, would derail the Administration’s civil rights initiatives.  Robert Kennedy and the President both warned King to discontinue the suspect associations.

But after the associations continued, Robert Kennedy felt compelled to issue a written directive authorizing the FBI to wiretap King and other leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, King’s civil rights organization.

Although Kennedy only gave written approval for limited wiretapping of King’s phones “on a trial basis, for a month or so,” Hoover extended the clearance so his men were “unshackled” to look for evidence in any areas of King’s life they deemed worthy.  The wire tapping continued through June 1966 and was revealed in 1968.

President Lyndon B. Johnson

In conjunction with the civil rights movement, Johnson overcame southern resistance and convinced Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed most forms of racial segregation. John F. Kennedy originally proposed the civil rights bill in June 1963.  He called the congressional leaders to the White House in late October 1963 to line up the necessary votes in the House for passage.

After Kennedy’s death, it was Johnson who picked up the torch and pushed the bill through the Senate.  Johnson signed the revised and stronger bill into law on July 2, 1964.  Legend has it that, as he put down his pen, Johnson told an aide, “We have lost the South for a generation”, anticipating a coming backlash from Southern whites against Johnson’s Democratic Party.

In 1965, he achieved passage of a second civil rights bill, the Voting Rights Act, which outlawed discrimination in voting, thus allowing millions of southern blacks to vote for the first time. In accordance with the act, several states, “seven of the eleven southern states of the former confederacy” – Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Virginia — were subjected to the procedure of preclearance in 1965, while Texas, home to the majority of the African American population at the time, followed in 1975.

After the murder of civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo, Johnson went on television to announce the arrest of four Ku Klux Klansmen implicated in her death. He angrily denounced the Klan as a “hooded society of bigots,” and warned them to “return to a decent society before it’s too late.” Johnson was the first President to arrest and prosecute members of the Klan since Ulysses S. Grant about 93 years earlier. He turned the themes of Christian redemption to push for civil rights, thereby mobilizing support from churches North and South.

During a Howard University commencement address on June 4, 1965, he said that both the government and the nation needed to help achieve goals:

“We have to shatter forever not only the barriers of law and public practice, but the walls which bound the condition of many by the color of his skin. To dissolve, as best we can, the antique enmities of the heart which diminish the holder, divide the great democracy, and do wrong — great wrong — to the children of God.”

In 1967, Johnson nominated civil rights attorney Thurgood Marshall to be the first African American Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

     

President Richard M. Nixon

The Nixon years witnessed the first large-scale integration of public schools in the South.  Nixon sought a middle way between the segregationist Wallace and liberal Democrats, whose support of integration was alienating some Southern whites.  Hopeful of doing well in the South in 1972, he sought to dispose of desegregation as a political issue before then. Soon after his inauguration, he appointed Vice President Spiro Agnew to lead a task force, which worked with local leaders—both white and black—to determine how to integrate local schools.

Vice-President Agnew had little interest in the work, and most of it was done by Labor Secretary George Shultz.  Federal aid was available, and a meeting with President Nixon was a possible reward for compliant committees.  By September 1970, fewer than ten percent of black children were attending segregated schools.  But by 1971, however, tensions over desegregation surfaced in Northern cities, with angry protests over the busing of children to schools outside their neighborhood to achieve racial balance. Nixon opposed busing personally but did not subvert court orders requiring its use.

In addition to desegregating public schools, Nixon implemented the Philadelphia Plan in 1970—the first significant federal affirmative action program.  He also endorsed the Equal Rights Amendment after it passed both houses of Congress in 1972 and went to the states for ratification.  Nixon had campaigned as an ERA supporter in 1968, though feminists criticized him for doing little to help the ERA or their cause after his election, though he appointed more women to administration positions than Lyndon Johnson had.

President William J. Clinton

Black America’s “First Black President” Bill Clinton did little or nothing to further the plight of black people during his two terms in office accept claim his love for soul food and play the sax.  There was not one bill he signed into law or supported to improve the growth and development of black people, the poor and down-trodden.

President Barack Obama

It seems like President Obama is using Bill Clinton as his prototype.  His nearly 3 years have been almost negligent when it comes to taking a stand on civil rights and improving the plight of the poor and down-trodden.  One of his first acts in office was to sign off on a bill cutting the benefits to social security to senior citizens for 3 years.  This act was seen as a “Death Sentence!”

While the cost of rent, gas, food, clothes, medicine, etc all have gone through the roof—seniors are left to figure out a way to survive.  In the meantime, the President spends billions of dollars to rescue, banks, mortgage companies, and car dealerships (Wall Street) who are responsible for this economic disaster in the first place.

While claiming he can’t justify catering to special interest groups like blacks but he signs off on a bill to formally repeal the ban on gays in military uniform , known as “Don’t ask and don’t tell.”  This act allows troops for the first time to publicly reveal that they are gay without fear of official retribution.  Gays can now officially come out of the closet. The overt racism is America has made some blacks wish they had a closet to hide.

Is there a different definition for gays when it comes to “Special Interest Groups?”   There is something wrong with this picture!

What is the problem with blacks helping blacks?  Asians help Asians, Hispanics help Hispanics, Jews help Jews, Chinese help Chinese but when we try to help each other it becomes a Federal case!

The economic crisis has taken a toll on black America like no other in our history it is double digit unemployment for black adults and black youth.  Where there are jobs white men make 20 times more than a black man.  One per cent of the American population controls all the wealth.  With statistics like these the chances of an “Even Playing Field” is virtually impossible during our life time!

I find it amazing that everytime blacks gain a foothold in Coorporate America, gain political office and add two dollars more to their bank accounts they are ask to “Play Fair” and they fall for it!

This charade of “Player Hating” going on between black radio and television personalities, Tavis Smiley, Professor Cornell West, Tom Joiner, Al Sharpton and Steve Harvey has been very devisive for the black community.

The problem and common denominator is President Barack Obama.  The question seems to be “Who is in and who is out?”

I suggested that the President invite the warring parties to the White House for a beer and see if they could settle their differences!

He invited a racist cop to have a beer with him on the White House lawn and a medal of honor winner—why not some ego tripping brothers!

Someone has to be the bigger “Man” in this case it has to be President Obama.

Republican or Democrat——- the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be a train for black folks!

 

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3 Responses to “White House In Black and White”

  1. Are we as good or better than “the man”? If we are equal, why is it we need the president to throw out a rope to”save” us? We have many trained/qualified brothers and siters ready to work.The president can not “make” a company hire/employ us. The time has come(or should I say passed) that we take a look at the companies not hiring us and not put our dollars in their pockets. The time is also for us to pool our resources together and create some jobs for our people and stop waitng for someone else to help. We have too many talented people. Let’s start using those talents.

  2. Obama figures Blacks are going to vote for him anyhow so why should he go out of his way to help.

    He got the gay vote by promising to end DADT and made good on that promise to avoid losing them.

    He is courting Latinos with the Dream Act.

    For Blacks he has few words. “Quit whining. Get a job!”

    Well, he has his job and isn’t that what’s important?

  3. socks5…

    […]White House In Black and White « Black Men In America[…]…

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