Breaking slavery’s back required wise men, compromise, a new constitution, a Civil War and the descendants of slaves, led by a latter-day Moses, King, to rise up and challenge America’s resolve to free “all mankind,” including the Negro, as King referred to his people in a day before the term Negro was “politically incorrect.”
King’s annual holiday is a time to ponder his accomplishments, accomplishments that took far too long to achieve, the final end of slavery, implied as it was.
Slavery was one of two issues never fully resolved during the Constitutional Convention in 1787, but ended up in the Constitution anyway, Article I, Section 9. While America continues to be divided over racial issues, I often wonder if King would be pleased with what his associates have achieved since his assassination.
I wonder also if his ‘Dream” has been fulfilled as ‘King dreamed it.’ I think not. Nor do I believe he would be happy with the directional changes made by his associates shortly after his death. I strongly believe his associates sold out King’s dream to Lyndon Johnston’s Great Society just as Lincoln’s associates sold out his dream of bringing a nation together, not dividing it further, to the carpetbaggers.
Evidence of King’s associates’ sellout can be found in those members of the Congressional Black Caucus, individuals primarily elected by Democratic African-Americans. Every African American congressperson but three has become a member of “the club,” the name CBC members gave themselves.
The CBC was formed in 1969, following passage of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, with nine members. In 2013 membership in “the club” had risen to 43. It has become a very powerful legislative force, for Democrats. No black elected Republican congressman or senator has ever become a members of CBC.
When asked why he refused to join CBC, J.C. Watts, a Republican, said “they say that I had sold them out and [was an] ‘Uncle Tom,’ and I said well, they deserve to have that view. But I have my thoughts too. And I say they are race-hustling poverty pimps.”
Harsh words! When a white congressman attempted to join ‘the club’ he was refused membership. A CBC member, congressman William Lacy Clay, responded to his request for membership by stating “He does not, and cannot meet the membership criteria, unless he can change his skin color. Primarily, we (CBC) are concerned with the needs and concerns of the black population, and we will not allow white America to infringe on these objectives.” I doubt if King’s ‘dream’ included such racist language.
Today’s CBC reminds me of another “club” of Democrats — the “Southern Block” of congressional members, all Democrats from Southern states, elected following the election of Franklin Roosevelt in 1932. Their strength and influence was immense and Roosevelt used them to help pass his New Deal, a program that led to Kennedy’s New Frontier, Johnson’s Great Society, and Obama’s program to “fundamentally change” America into a socialist nation.
Obama is receiving strong support for his programs from the CBC.
Two of the original nine CBC members, John Conyers from Detroit and Charles Rangel from New York City, are still in Congress and both, due to their seniority, vice-chair powerful committees in the House.
The “Southern Block” controlled Congress during the New Deal years by chairing all the powerful committees in Congress, in both houses, with seniority.
Had King, lived I’d like to believe he would have focused more on helping his followers strengthen their families, not destroy the family as the Great Society has done; to help families educate their children with fathers assuming the role of family breadwinner to help their children lift themselves up through education, and become strong supporters of true Republican government by supporting those principles of freedoms embedded in the Constitution. Had King’s ‘dream’ come to pass I don’t believe as many of “his people” would be incarcerated — nor would the school drop-out rate of “his people” so alarming.
I’d like to believe that had King not been assassinated, like Lincoln, America would have been able to heal those wounds caused by those racial issues, and America would be closer to achieving King’s ‘dream’ of “white and black” working together today.
Donald Conkey is a retired agricultural economist in Woodstock.