In 2015, we Black folks paid a heavy price for our resolute refusal to organize a national unity movement to promote and defend our economic, cultural, political and educational interest in what is basically a White supremacist/racist society.
The flagrant shooting and killing of unarmed Black folks – including children –throughout the country; the increase of overt White supremacist/racist incidents on various White colleges and university campuses; the public questioning of the intelligence of Black students by U. S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia; the general lack of any discussion about race relations in the presidential debates; low-income Black males killing each other at an alarming rate; and the mass incarceration and racial profiling of Black folks – are just some of the consequences of our refusal to create a unity movement as advocated by Brother Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
‘A common enemy’
In a 1963 letter to nine civil rights leaders, Brother Malcolm stated, “If Capitalistic Kennedy and Communistic Khrushev can find common ground on which to form a united front despite their tremendous ideological differences, it is a disgrace for Negro leaders not to be able to submerge our ‘minor’ differences in order to seek a common solution to a common problem posed by a common enemy.”
In another 1964 statement announcing the launching of his new organization, the Organization of Afro-American Unity, Brother Malcolm noted its purpose was “to unite Afro-Americans and their organizations around a non-religious and non-sectarian constructive program for human rights.”
Dr. King, in his last, must-read book entitled, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” was equally clear about the absolute necessity for unity. Dr. King wrote:
“The Pharaohs had a favorite and effective strategy to keep their slaves in bondage: keep them fighting among themselves. The divide-and-conquer technique has been a potent weapon in the arsenal of oppression. But when slaves unite, the Red Seas of history open and the Egypts of slavery crumble.
“This plea for unity is not a call for uniformity. There must always be healthy debate. There will be inevitable differences of opinion. The dilemma that the Negro confronts is so complex and monumental that its solution will of necessity involve a diversified approach. But Negroes can differ and still unite around common goals.
“There are already structured forces in the Negro community that can serve as the basis for building a powerful united front – the Negro church, the Negro press, the Negro fraternities and sororities, and Negro professional associations. We must admit that these forces have never given their full resources to the cause of Negro liberation.
“There are still too many Negro churches that are so absorbed in a future good ‘over yonder’ that they condition their members to adjust to the present evils ‘over here.’ Too many Negro newspapers have veered away from their traditional role as protest organs agitating for social change, and have turned to the sensational and the conservative in place of the substantive and the militant.
“Too many Negro social and professional groups have degenerated into snobbishness and a preoccupation with frivolities and trivial activity. But the failures of the past must not be an excuse for the inaction of the present and the future. These groups must be mobilized and motivated. This form of group unity can do infinitely more to liberate the Negro than any action of individuals. We have been oppressed as a group and we must overcome that oppression as a group.
“Through this form of group unity, we can begin a constructive program which will vigorously seek to improve our personal standards. …”
If we refuse to develop the kind of unity advocated by these two warriors, 2016 will be as unproductive and deadly as 2015.
Contact A. Peter Bailey at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 202-716-4560.