December 1, 2020

John Lewis Helped Win the Civil Rights War; Why Are We Still Fighting It?

Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, a top aide to Martin Luther King Jr., died last week. In 1965, Lewis suffered a fractured skull when he led 600 civil rights workers on a peaceful protest that turned violent as Lewis and the protesters were attacked by the police on the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

Ten years earlier, Rosa Parks famously challenged the Jim Crow segregation laws by refusing to give up her seat in the front section of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. The Supreme Court, a year earlier, unanimously struck down “separate but equal” school laws. Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. King’s birthday is now a national holiday.

Today, there are more Black elected officials in Mississippi (the state where three civil rights workers were brutally murdered in 1964) than in any other state in America. About 12% of the House of Representatives is Black, close to the percentage of Blacks in America.

There have been Black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, including McDonald’s, Merrill Lynch and American Express. Voters have elected Black senators. A Black man was elected governor of Virginia, one of the states of the Confederacy. We have had back-to-back Black attorneys general and back-to-back Black secretaries of state. Virtually every major American city has or has had a Black mayor, including New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago, whose current mayor is a Black, gay female.

In 1964, King said that the country was making such racial progress — “changes,” King said, “that surprise me.” King predicted, based on our rapid progress, “We may be able to get a Negro president in less than 40 years.” In 2008, America elected Barack Obama.

Obama got a higher percentage of the white vote than did John Kerry four years earlier. And despite getting elected with 52% of the vote, President-elect Obama walked into office in January 2009 with a nearly 70% approval rating. Why? Voters, even those who did not vote for Obama, thought they hired the presidential candidate they saw on “60 Minutes.” Asked by correspondent Steve Kroft whether his race could cause him to lose, Obama, not yet the front-runner for the nomination, said, “No.” He said that if he fails to win, “it will be because of other factors,” such as failing to show “the American people a vision for where the country needs to go that they can embrace.”

This is not your grandfather’s America.

What today’s social justice warriors complain about has little to do with “equal rights” and more to do with unequal results. In 1991, Orlando Patterson, a Black Harvard sociology professor, wrote: “The sociological truths are that America, while still flawed in its race relations … is now the least racist white-majority society in the world; has a better record of legal protection of minorities than any other society, white or Black; offers more opportunities to a greater number of Black persons than any other society, including all those of Africa.”

There is a crisis within the Black community, and it’s the unconscionably high dropout rate at many of our urban high schools. Baltimore, in 2017, had 13 public high schools where 0% of kids could do math at grade level, and another half-dozen where only 1% could do so.

A white friend, who, in the 1990s, taught at the University of Chicago, recently told me a sad but all too common story. In a Borders bookstore, my professor friend saw a Black boy, approximately 10 years old, sitting and reading a book. My friend does not recall the book but said it was a serious book, not a children’s book or a picture book.

But another Black kid, about the same age, walked up to him and said: “Why are you reading that? You’re trying to be white.” The reader promptly closed the book, put it down and began walking away. My friend, however, rushed over to them and said: “Wait. Don’t stop reading. Reading is important to be successful in life. You should read as much and as often as you can, if you want to be successful.” The Black kid who was critical about reading turned to his friend and, “See, I told you it would make you white.” The kid who had been reading nodded in agreement with his friend and continued walking away.

Where is Black Lives Matter when you need them? One cannot pin this on racism. This is Black self-sabotage.

Again, equal rights and equal results are two different things. And we should not understate the astonishing progress of Blacks since liberation from slavery, when most Blacks could neither read nor write. Economist Walter Williams said, “Black Americans have come a greater distance, over some of the highest hurdles, in a shorter period of time than any other racial group.” Thomas Sowell, responding to a statement that Blacks haven’t “caught up” with whites, noted, “Well, whites haven’t stood still.”

Larry Elder is a bestselling author and nationally syndicated radio talk show host. His latest book, “The New Trump Standard,” is available in paperback from Amazon.com and for Nook, Kindle, iBooks and GooglePlay. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an “Elderado,” visit www.LarryElder.com. Follow Larry on Twitter @LarryElder. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2020 LAURENCE A. ELDER

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9 Responses

  1. There are still many old black racist men and women making a living pushing racism..this is the 21st century and it needs to stop..

  2. if you are white black green or yellow your future is in your hands you decide who and what you will become how you get their is to learn train and excel for you then you can be proud of who you have become its up to you.

    1. Richard you are correct you are treated like you act and look, my dad taught me apply looking like what they want to see

  3. There are a couple of reasons for the Drop out rate. First the family core doesn’t value education and two they can earn more on unemployment than they do working. The tribal values of women being breeders and cooks to support the hunter exists. I had a friend that got out of Chicago when she was 19 years old. She related being forced to have sex with several young men preforming different sex acts while the older women watched and cheered.
    In 1964 the black community was officially given their Equal Rights, but they don’t understand that with right there are responsibilities. Respect being one, look at the damage they are doing to people that they don’t even know.
    Justice, chant JUSTICE but I don’t think that the majority understand the meaning of the word. The word Justice brings with it several responsibility 1.Behavior or treatment, 2. Being fair and reasonable, 3. respect for the Law.

    Look at what is going on how can these people call for Justice. In reality they are trying to intimidate anyone that would speak out against them.

    The people of Portland Or., need to step on this bug before it get’s any worse. It is the responsibility Governor and the Mayor to provide security for the people of their State and City. This is an attempt to over through the Government and you are letting it happen.

  4. I have black friends. They don’t consider themselves victims. They have good paying jobs and some of them have titles and made more money than me. They drive nice vehicles and live in nice homes. I don’t owe them anything other than being courteous and respect, the same towards me. I’ve never owned any slaves, so I don’t owe you a penny. If you want some money, get a job.

  5. I don’t think racism ever was their message , but it’s a way to get something for nothing , little Al sharpton knows exactly what I’m talking about , he’s made millions exploiting it . Their many doing the same , it’s money in the bank ! Racism is taught to them , because they know nothing about how it all became reality . Slaves were bought and sold through out history it’s a world wide thing . Ships come and go and they were sold to all . Their freedoms in our country , use them wisely .

  6. First I don’t understand why people call racists are we all one race human beings? Just because we have ethical differences we all are give the same opportunity as anyone else . If you don’t educate yourself you get left behind! Work you fanny off and you can make something you can be proud of !

  7. Larry Elder is a brilliant writer, speaker, author and man. People would be wise to listen to him. FYI< Larry just happens to be of the Negro Race.

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