To put the reader at ease, this tale to be told is not a Black history lesson, but it will take you down memory lane for a minute, just to set the tone. Hence, I’ll be skipping the horrors of slavery and jump to the heros of the sixties. After all, that’s when Black History really began.
While its true guys like Jackie Robinson and Floyd Patterson make some noise early on, but they were Negroes, not Black People. Negroes were demanding to be accepted by White America in the early forties and fifties. Black people were demanding to be respected by White America by the early sixties and seventies. Its important to understand the difference.
It wasn’t until men like Mohammed Ali and Jim Brown came along that Black became popular. And popular it was. Black was beautiful and Black was powerful. To be Black, was to be proud. In the sixties and early seventies, Black people began to realize they had a future in America. Black people had found their voice and was using it to control their own narrative.
Black kids were actually learning in American schools for once. Black people were enrolling in to and graduating from college in larger numbers. Black people began getting better and higher paying jobs. While Black people were still lagging significantly behind their White counterparts, progress was not only being made, but Blacks were finally feeling good about themselves.
Black people discovered they had soul. They started calling themselves soul brothers and soul sisters. To call a Black person a Negro was like calling him a nigger. It was cool to be Black and I liked being cool. Black people were moving’ on up and the accent seemed assured. When the United States Air Force graduated Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr. as America’s first Black astronaut, not even the sky was the limit anymore.
Even still, smart Black people knew the struggle was far from over. Instinctively, Black parents were teaching their children, that if Black people were going to hold on to the gains made, they’d have to be twice as good as their White counterpart. I can personally attest to that experience, as I was a recipient of that message.
When Black entertainers like James Brown put the message in the music, the people heard it loud and clear. “Say it loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” and “I Don’t Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing, Just Open the Door, I’ll get it Myself” became anthems for a positive Black movement. With a boost in government funding for social, training and early educations programs, Black people began carving out a piece of the American dream for themselves.
Unfortunately that progress would not sustained. Disaster was just around the corner. When President Jimmy Carter lost his reelection bid to Ronald Reagan, the dream was over and the nightmare began. Many in the Black community saw the writing on the road and prepared themselves for the worse.
Others, prayed for better days than smart Blacks were predicting. Those “others”, couldn’t have been more wrong. A new government was in the making and all signs pointed to it being corporate friendly and Black averse. Tomorrow, Issues Under Fire will examine The Fall of the African American.