Have you ever asked yourself why most people don’t know whether Dr. King and his comrades in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) were Democrats or Republicans? Neither do most people know whether they were pro-life or supported gay marriage. Most don’t know because party affiliation wasn’t on King’s agenda. Neither were gay marriage and pro-life issues.
They had a “single-minded and unified agenda,” which was to dismantle the legal framework of Jim Crow and uplift African Americans. They also had a “single-minded and unified strategy” that Dr. King spelled out in his Letter From A Birmingham Jail. They had a “single-minded and united philosophy” which was nonviolence. Last, they were single-mindedly united behind “one spokesman,” Dr. King.
Similarly, President Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC) had a “single-minded and unified” agenda, strategy, and spokesman. They borrowed from Dr. King’s playbook.
Hence, whites could not divide the SCLC, ANC or the black community. Because of single-minded Black unity, these organizations bought white supremacy to its knees and advanced their goals for our beloved community.
Today, African Americans lack a single-minded and unified agenda, strategy or spokesperson. We have replaced a single-minded and unified approach with with well meaning but uninformed local clergy who know nothing about organizing movements, politics, policy or the law. Our lack of unity and informed leadership is the reason we see no progress in the continued struggle for racial justice.
The group of black clergy that met with Trump recently was a mockery based on the standards from King’s playbook. They lacked everything needed to push a racial justice agenda and force our adversaries to take us seriously. Again, they lacked the single-minded and unified agenda, strategy, and spokesman. These pastors were merely elated just being at the table. They heaped praise on a man who has heaped nothing but contempt on their race, community and parishioners. For the black community, it was an embarrassing waste of time and lost opportunity.
Moreover, the promise of prison reform from Trump was trickery for two reasons. First, his Attorney General has been very hostile to criminal justice reform. He supports overly aggressive policing, mandatory minimums and instructed his prosecutors to charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offenses. This will produce more mass incarceration. Second, many Republicans in Congress have stymied efforts on REAL criminal justice reform, especially Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary. He supports a weak republican bill call the Next Step Act, which focuses on re-entry but overlooks mass incarceration. Because of his chairmanship no REAL criminal justice reform occurs without his cooperation. Therefore, how can Trump deliver on criminal justice reform if the AG and Congress oppose it? At best he could issue several weak executive orders. Those pastors likely got duped as Trump got exactly what he hoped for — a photo op leading up to the mid-terms.
This raises a question — how did uninformed black conservative clergy become spokesmen for the black community? Here’s the answer.
This phenomenon became popular with the Bush Administration and its Faith-Based Initiatives. White conservatives developed this strategy to bypass black leaders and organizations who understand how to push forward a racial justice agenda. I am speaking of organizations like the NAACP, SCLC, Urban League, Rainbow Push, NAN, and others.
Today white conservatives continue this devious practice. They garner conservative black clergy to persuade and influence a critical mass of black voters to support the Republican ticket. They get these black votes by using two divisive issues, i.e., abortion and gay marriage. These are definitely critical issues; however, they’re not the only issues we African Americans should be concerned about.
White conservatives use another trick to garner black conservative clergy. They promise to implement urban initiatives albeit they rarely keep their promises. The black community typically ends up with a huge nothing burger from voting for Republicans. Even worse, Republicans ordinarily champion policies, regulations, politicians or supreme court justices that hurt African Americans.
All this said, some Democrats are no better. They use liberal black clergy to push their radical liberal agenda in the black community. Since both parties push agendas that are anti-Biblical, I became a political independent many years ago. I can criticize either party and any candidate who strays from a Kingdom agenda. I love this freedom.
If we return to King’s playbook and unite around a single-minded and united agenda, strategy, and spokesperson for racial justice, we can move forward with more racial justice. We don’t have to be a monolith and agree on everything but we must be united to achieve racial justice. Let’s unite NOW!