Point of View Columns

April 4, 2022

It was 54 years ago today that Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Dr. King’s murder came only three years after the assassination of Malcolm X. Within a year, Fred Hampton would be dead in Chicago, dying in a hail of police bullets while he slept.

Anyone who lived through those times will remember that the idea of Black leadership being under attack was not just a barbershop conversation item, it was real. The documentation from the FBI and COINTELPRO have revealed that J. Edgar Hoover and Richard Nixon and many others were complicit in creating an atmosphere where Black leadership could be decimated in such a public fashion, and we many never know how many guilty hands were busy doing Satan’s work.

Looking back, we now know that the trajectory of a Black liberation movement went through fundamental changes. Activism was channeled into Black capitalism and Black political power in more traditional venues. The results have been mixed. Black capitalism has benefited a significant number of Black Americans, but an even more significant number of Black Americans live in the shadows of inequity and institutional racism.

Black political power has transformed the history of this country with Black mayors, Black governors and even a Black president. But a Constitution that rigged the electoral system has seen no more than four Black United States senators in those 54 years – and we have painfully learned that without power in the Senate, all other power is ephemeral at best, a faint hope being a bad to worse outcome.

We have seen the Black Lives Matter embraced in parts of America where no Black people live. We have also seen the outright banning of the historical truth about Black America banned in parts of America where no Black people – as well as in states and cities where there are many Black people.

Hope is never a failure. But hope does require revival, and sometimes resuscitation.

So, people of good will across this land can hope that somehow, some way, the next 54 years will bear the promise of a better day for all.


17 thoughts on “April 4, 2022

  1. J R Frasier says:

    Brother Wallace,
    Thanks for reminding us just sad and yet how far we’ve gotten, but we are still on the journey for a better day.
    What you’ve penned I will continue to share with others.
    You have a gift that I lack, yet I will not allow others to take forgranted or
    Keep the words flowing. I will do whatever it takes to help the cause.
    Much Love and peace…
    Your Brother in South Carolina

  2. Don A. Dayson MD says:

    MLK was answering a call for black leadership to assist in the labor fight in Memphis. The Amazon Labor Union is a grassroots labor organizing. Where is black leadership response?

  3. Lee A. Daniels says:

    And a superbly qualified Black woman will shortly be confirmed to the Supreme Court — after most of the Senate Racist Caucus continues to disgrace itself and offers more proof that the “problematic democracy” that now characterizes the US will be on life-support should the DP lose the Senate this November.

  4. Chinyere Egbe says:

    The history of intimidation of Black folks has parallels through the history of mankind. Examples include the public crucifixion of Spartacus and rebellious slaves in ancient Rome and of course the lynching of blacks that continued into the 1960s and of course the public assassinations that are described here.

    The lesson in the history of events that led to the election of Obama and a handful of black senators is that persistence pays off. An oppressed people begin with high casualty rates and over time the casualty rates diminish for more reasons than one. Nevertheless, my observation over those 50 years and some is also that many of us have taken the sacrifices of the Martyrs for granted and others are not aware that the comforts that we enjoy today came as a result of real bloodshed by brave people. But not every brave soul died. Many survived to not only continue the work but also to demonstrate that rising against oppression is not always deadly.

    The intimidation of potential leaders goes on even to this day such that potential leaders are quickly driven off the patch but many people who do not read between the lines misconstrue what is going on. It is for this reason that progress is slower than it should be. The struggle should not be limited to electing a president or a senator or mayor here or there. How many governors have been elected? The struggle should pervade every level of life and all avenues of participation including leadership in the workplace. We should not betray people like the son of Ms. Jane Pitman (imaginary person) who was shot for teaching negros how to read a Bible. That kind of intimidation and undermining of black folks progress is taking place today. But many do not recognize it for what it is. We should learn to read between the lines.

  5. Mike Orr says:

    My brother from another mother, as usual brings an insight and perspective to modern political discourse that contextualizes where things stand. The impact of the new socks same shoes syndromes continues until you need neither one.

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