Re: Civil Rights (multiple responses)
Fri, 20 Nov 1998 10:43:24 -0500

From: Ron Jacobs <>

Although one would wish that racial "preferences" did not have to exist in
order to ensure that folks from every part of our society were provided
with equal employment and educational opportunities, it seems that they do.
If Dr. King's dream of a society where the children of black and white
could sit together and honestly be equal in how the law and the rest of
society perceived them, there would be no need for affirmative action.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Furthermore, it is precisely because
of the ideology shared and propagated by folks like Mr. Horowitz and Newt
Gingrich (among others) that many Americans believe the strggle for racial
equality is over. I firmly believe that the real problem in America is not
skin color alone, but a particularly american mix of class and race that is
the direct legacy of the european conquest of this land and its
complementary use of africans as slaves. Affirmative action is a bandaid
which pits working people against each other--the only real answer is (dare
I say it) fundamental radical change in the system of post monopoly
corporate capitalism.
--ron jacobs

From: benjamin berry <>

>Perhaps to some the new thread is exciting but I, for one, am disappointed
>about the language and the unsubstantiated claims. We need to be
>historically accurate, otherwise we have reduced the list to a "chat room,"
>which I have no interest in. Two points worth mentioning, there is ample
>evidence that the FBI's "support" of the Civil Rights Movement was less
>than stellar. Hoover's animosity towards MLK, Jr. and the fact that some
>FBI agents were KKK members has been well documented. Second, historians
>would not agree that the whole ***@#! country outside of the South
>supported the civil rights movement. Racists were/are alive and well in
>probably every state, including my (beloved) liberal home state of
>Massachusetts. I can appreciate the passion the contributors display, but
>let's make sure the facts are accurate in our interpretations.
Dr. Maura Doherty makes a good point. As a "Foot soldier" in some of the
Civil Rights activities of the 1960s both in the South and in other
sections of the country, I can give personal testimony that not all of th
##**??@@ country supported the Civil Rights Movement. The documentation of
the FBI hostility toward King and the rest of us (I had a constant FBI
presence in my life from 1968-1970) is volumunious. People need to read
instead of responding from pure emotionalism.

"We were not brought here as slaves; we were sent by the Creator to save
Kofi Taha
Benjamin Berry, Jr.
Professor of American Studies and History
Virginia Wesleyan College
1584 Wesleyan Drive
Norfolk/Virginia Beach, VA 23502
voice:(757)455-3233 fax: (757) 466-8283.

From: "Matthew J. Countryman" <>

David Horowitz is entitled to his views. It is important to note,
however, that his views of civil rights movement history are not shared by
most scholars in the field. On the role of the FBI in the South, I
suggest that he and others examine Clay Carson's edited volume on the
FBI's files on Dr. King. It seems to me a stretch to suggest that even
so-called moderates like King and SCLC enjoyed the support of the FBI. On
the question of racial preferences, it is true that until the early-to-mid
60's civil rights advocates like King and Thurgood Marshall seem to have
believed that colorblind laws would be sufficient to end racial
discrimination and inequity in American society. I think that John
McMillian has well demonstrated that as early as 1963-64 King was voicing
support for the use of racial factors to correct the impact of more than
300 years of legalized racial discrimination. The historical record on
Marshall is even clearer. As the head of the NAACP legal defense fund
and then as a member of the supreme court, Marshall was one of the
architects of the legal justification for affirmative action. For his
views, I would suggest that Horowitz and others read his eloquent and
impassioned dissent in the Bakke case. It seems evident to me that these
two stalwarts of color-blindness had concluded that by themselves
antidiscrimination laws were insufficient to reverse more than 300 years
of legally-enforced racial inequity.

Matthew J. Countryman
Assistant Professor of History and American Culture
1029 Tisch Hall 1003
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
734 647-2434

From: Mark Bunster <>

At 10:26 PM 11/18/98 -0500, david horowitz wrote:

>I'm going to ignore the personal insults. I've read the quotes from
>King that McMillian provides and see no evidence in any of them that
>King supported racial preferences. Since the civil rights movement he
>led, was opposed on principle to the racial preferences of the
>segregationist south, since he and other spokesmen of his movement
>like the late Thurgood Marshall constantly stressed the importance of
>"color-blind" laws and government policies, only a very twisted logic
>such as McMillian liberally employs could wind up supporting the
>cracker policies we all fought against back then. There is not a
>honest soul who participated in the civil rights movement of the 1960s
>who will claim that we were supporting anything except a "color-blind
>society." Now, people can change their minds. What they can't do is
>re-write history and expect others to respect them.

I think it's important to refrain from applying current paradigms to past
thinking. Certainly we would find little fruit in contemplating whether
Thomas Jefferson, or even leaders of the early part of this century such as
Booker T Washington, favored "affirmative action," . At the time when King
and Bond et al were articulating the concept of "color-blindness," it would
be foolish to assume that they were thinking about any notion of equal vs
preference-based hiring, since in many places black folks couldn't use the
same toilet as whites, much less compete against them for the same jobs.
They would have been putting the cart far ahead of the horse. MLK could
have forseen only in his dreams that white people would come to complain
that black folks were taking their jobs away from them.

Color-blindness is an emotional, individually philosophical concept--that
you look at and perceive of people in generally the same way regardless of
their color. Impossible as it might be for some to believe, that notion CAN
in fact coexist with the understanding that such a reality does not yet
exist, and concrete promotion of that goal is a necessary intermediate
step to reaching it.

Finally, I am always disturbed when a situation in which 60% of a given
population is of color, yet only 15% - 25% of government contract
opportunities are directed to minority-owned business, is construed as a
"preference" system. Who's really getting the preferred treatment here?

(the above is essentially the system being employed in my city these days).
Mark Bunster ****How thoughtlessly we dissipate our energies
Survey Research Lab *****perhaps we don't fulfill each other's fantasies
VA. Commonwealth U ***** as we stand upon the ledges of our lives
Richmond, VA 23284 *****with our respective similarities ***** it's either sadness or euphoria
or try ***** --Billy Joel(!?)


Jesse asked about the comment of Stokley's answering the question what he the
position of women in the movement and his replying, "prone". Mary King in her
biography tells the story and says that Stokely's reply to the reporter was
jokey. He was aked when they were all laying on a pier when the reporter
asked the question. Others in SNCC say that Stokely did housework and was one
of the best on female equality. He supported radical feminism, came to our
events etc. He is supposed to have beaten Makeba, or so I heard, but I don't
know this for a fact.
Rosalyn Baxandall

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