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Black South Africans . . . had their own land stolen from them and were

then forced to live as second class citizens in their own “homelands.”

 

 

Legends and Legacies

By Vince Rogers

 

Seldom does a local public official rise to a level where they are regarded as a world leader. It is also unusual that a local politician would implement policies that are capable of efficacy on a national and international scale. Maynard Holbrook Jackson is that rare local politician who can be considered an authentic world leader and a person of national political potency. Jackson was the primary architect of one of the only successful “movements” to seize economic and political control of a major geopolitical entity – the city of Atlanta and place it under the control of a majority Black population.

Although he is not conventionally thought of as such, in that regard he should also be considered an authentic “Black Nationalist.” While it is customary for macro or world events to affect local political issues, the example of the transformation of the power structure of the city of Atlanta is a model that would be replicated by local and national political entities worldwide.  

The system of Apartheid that held a grip on the Black population of the Republic of South Africa until 1994 was essentially undistinguishable from the “Jim Crow” laws that ruled the lives of the southern United States’ Black citizens until 1964. As majority Black populations nationwide would attempt to manifest their political power, many would also have the burden of struggling to energize moribund economies that were as economically and culturally behind the times as they were politically. On the contrary it could be argued that although South Africa faced its own unique challenges, after the end of Apartheid, their emerging Black leadership had an advantage because of their access to an abundant supply of resources and well-developed financial and transport sectors.

Jackson would be responsible for spearheading Atlanta’s development of thriving home-grown industries, a diverse financial community and a much needed ground transportation system and International airport.  Maynard Jackson would not only prove that a Black man could run the government of a major American city, he would also invigorate and expand the economy, create new business opportunities, introduce a more representative legal system and elevate Atlanta to the status of an “International City.”

In 1974, Jackson would take office as the first Black mayor of a major southern city. Almost immediately, Maynard would initiate programs to expand the Black business sector by increasing participation in municipal business and by encouraging entrepreneurship. Although many people challenged such “affirmative action” programs at the time, it has proven to be successful for creating economic opportunity and considered far more equitable and palatable than measures to seize and reallocate businesses and land that have been used in other “Post-Colonial” societies. Atlanta’s example of awarding municipal contracts to “minority” businesses has proven to be a successful re-allocation scheme. It has proven to be a superior alternative to more intrusive schemes that have been used to redistribute economic factors.

Although corruption, bribery and other criminal activities marred some of the success stories of this era, these are universal characteristics of similar situations where large sums of money are transacted. Nevertheless, it can be said that the overall scope and activity of the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia’s economies have been positively affected by the transformation that took place under the Jackson administrations. Without the visionary efforts of Maynard Jackson, Atlanta would not be regarded today as a “Black Mecca” or the “Empire City of the South.”

Another similarity to post apartheid South Africa and the emerging “New South” of the  Jackson administrations, was the opportunity to cure an adversarial and untrusting relationship between Atlanta’s majority Black population and the city’s law enforcement community. While Atlanta’s segregated neighborhoods were not exactly comparable to the “Townships” of South Africa’s urban areas, there still existed an adversarial relationship between the legal system and Atlanta’s Black residents. The presence of police officers in neighborhoods such as Vine City, “Sweet Auburn” and Mechanicsville seldom incited feelings of good will and warm feelings. Maynard realized the need to assure and secure the integrity and fidelity of the police department and the legal system. He spearheaded the appointment of a Black police chief, public safety commissioner and judges. He created an environment of safe communities in which all citizens were assured of fair and equitable treatment. Jackson understood this was essential to creating an environment where talented people from all walks of life would be allowed to thrive.

After the fall of the South African system of Apartheid in 1994, the country faced similar obstacles and opportunities as Atlanta following the “Jim Crow” era. The iconic South African anti-Apartheid activist Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was eventually released from prison and ultimately became President of the Republic of South Africa in 1994. Although the “Jim Crow” era of the American South had ended, this parallel system of inequity had managed to drag on for another thirty years in South Africa. This fact alone makes it obvious that although the situations are very similar they are also very different. Mandela, despite his international reputation and magnanimous renown, could not achieve the same degree of success in transforming South Africa and empowering the Black population as Jackson did in Atlanta.

In the case of South Africa we have a “conquered” and invaded population rather than an assimilated population. American Blacks were brutally forced to come to a new land and do the dirty work of building a nation. Black South Africans on the other hand had their own land stolen from them and were then forced to live as second class citizens in their own “homelands.” While both were similarly tragic, brutal and evil systems they presented different obstacles and opportunities on the road towards “freedom” and “liberation.” Although the different degrees of adversity and brutality between Apartheid and “Jim Crow” cannot be measured empirically, it is intuitive that the former system was especially complex given its longevity.

The Apartheid system was a multi-faceted leviathan of “Gordian Knot” intricacy, filled with all of the obstacles Maynard Jackson’s regime faced in 1970s Atlanta but quite a few more. While the situation in the South was mainly a question of “Black or White” Mandela had to also address the interests of people of diverse racial, cultural and tribal distinctions. Nevertheless President Mandela’s key challenges were similarly that of introducing economic equity and equal treatment under the law into a system that was built on securing economic inequity via legal inequality.

Because the level of inequity in South Africa was so severe under Apartheid, the task of achieving an equitable economic allocation has been especially problematic. Despite various schemes to privatize industries, redistribute lands and create a Black middle class, South Africa continues to have one of the most unequal income distribution patterns in the world. Poverty continues to be defined almost exclusively on a racial basis with a very small percentage of the population holding the great majority of the countries wealth and earning disproportionately higher incomes. It appears that only recently (January 2004) South Africa opted to institute the Broad-Based Black Empowerment Act of 2003, which seeks to institute programs to increase employment preparedness and business ownership. Critics of this program argue that it seeks to elevate one group to the detriment of another, rather than attempting to achieve equity in a more organic way. Saddled with a myriad other problems such as an epidemic HIV/AIDS infection rate, an astronomically high crime rate and a woefully high unemployment rate, South Africa’s transformation has a ways to go before it can be considered successful.  

Nelson Mandela is a larger than life figure of almost saintly proportion. He took a stand on principled issues that have affected liberation struggles world wide. He also paid the near ultimate sacrifice of spending over two decades of his life in prison because of his principled stances. Mr. Mandela’s place in history is well deserved. Maynard Jackson is highly regarded amongst native Atlantans and most Southerners are well aware of his legacy. Nevertheless his true legacy and contribution is not as fully understood or heralded on an international or national level.  

At that moment in history when Black people nationwide were challenged to prove they were worthy of the rights and freedoms they had fought for over a century to gain, Maynard Jackson came forward and took it upon himself to shoulder the burden of proving that a Black man had the intellect, vision and ability to run a major U.S. city. He stood tall and embodied the epitome of a proud capable Black man in the face of continued bigotry and prejudice. Had Jackson failed to capably lead this city, the cause of “minority” empowerment and “Black Power” would have failed miserably and suffered a blow that would have been almost impossible to recover from. Inasmuch as people like Frederick Douglass fought for our emancipation, Marcus Garvey fought for our dignity and Martin Luther King Jr. and others fought for our right to equality under the law, Maynard Holbrook Jackson stood tall and fought for the right to prove that Black men and women could achieve anything that any other race of people were capable of and could ascend any height they would aspire to.

Vince Rogers Bio was raised in Atlanta’s Bowen Homes housing projects and went on to attend Morehouse College as an academic scholar. He is most proud of being Editor of his high school newspaper the Frederick Douglass North Star.

Winner Black Enterprise Magazine/BMW "America's Ultimate Drive" Writing Contest / Official Inaugural Selection(s): "I've Known Rivers" The Museum of the African Diaspora Story Project / Presenter; Hip Hop's Defiant Divas Conference, Vanderbilt University

Contributor: Clean Sheets Magazine; TimBookTu; Taj Mahal Review / http://waxvainglorious.blogspot.com  / http://vincevision.blogspot.com / www.vincevision.com / Vince Rogers / P O Box 50602 / Atlanta, Georgia 30302-0602 / vincevision@yahoo.com

posted 20 August 2006 

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Jefferson's Pillow

The Founding Fathers and the Dilemma of Black Patriotism

By Roger W. Wilkins

 In Jefferson's Pillow, Wilkins returns to America's beginnings and the founding fathers who preached and fought for freedom, even though they owned other human beings and legally denied them their humanity. He asserts that the mythic accounts of the American Revolution have ignored slavery and oversimplified history until the heroes, be they the founders or the slaves in their service, are denied any human complexity. Wilkins offers a thoughtful analysis of this fundamental paradox through his exploration of the lives of George Washington, George Mason, James Madison, and of course Thomas Jefferson. He discusses how class, education, and personality allowed for the institution of slavery, unravels how we as Americans tell different sides of that story, and explores the confounding ability of that narrative to limit who we are and who we can become. An important intellectual history of America's founding, Jefferson's Pillow will change the way we view our nation and ourselves.

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So Rich, So Poor: Why It's So Hard to End Poverty in America

By Peter Edelman

If the nation’s gross national income—over $14 trillion—were divided evenly across the entire U.S. population, every household could call itself middle class. Yet the income-level disparity in this country is now wider than at any point since the Great Depression. In 2010 the average salary for CEOs on the S&P 500 was over $1 million—climbing to over $11 million when all forms of compensation are accounted for—while the current median household income for African Americans is just over $32,000. How can some be so rich, while others are so poor? In this provocative book, Peter Edelman, a former top aide to Senator Robert F. Kennedy and a lifelong antipoverty advocate, offers an informed analysis of how this country can be so wealthy yet have a steadily growing number of unemployed and working poor. According to Edelman, we have taken important positive steps without which 25 to 30 million more people would be poor, but poverty fluctuates with the business cycle.

The structure of today’s economy has stultified wage growth for half of America’s workers—with even worse results at the bottom and for people of color—while bestowing billions on those at the top. So Rich, So Poor delves into what is happening to the people behind the statistics and takes a particular look at the continuing crisis of young people of color, whose possibility of a productive life too often is lost on their way to adulthood.DemocracyNow

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Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin

By John D'Emilio

Bayard Rustin is one of the most important figures in the history of the American civil rights movement. Before Martin Luther King, before Malcolm X, Bayard Rustin was working to bring the cause to the forefront of America's consciousness. A teacher to King, an international apostle of peace, and the organizer of the famous 1963 March on Washington, he brought Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence to America and helped launch the civil rights movement. Nonetheless, Rustin has been largely erased by history, in part because he was an African American homosexual. Acclaimed historian John D'Emilio tells the full and remarkable story of Rustin's intertwined lives: his pioneering and public person and his oblique and stigmatized private self.

It was in the tumultuous 1930s that Bayard Rustin came of age, getting his first lessons in politics through the Communist Party and the unrest of the Great Depression.

A Quaker and a radical pacifist, he went to prison for refusing to serve in World War II, only to suffer a sexual scandal. His mentor, the great pacifist A. J. Muste, wrote to him, "You were capable of making the 'mistake' of thinking that you could be the leader in a revolution...at the same time that you were a weakling in an extreme degree and engaged in practices for which there was no justification."

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To the Mountaintop

My Journey Through the Civil Rights Movement

By Charlayne Hunter-Gault

A personal history of the civil rights movement from activist and acclaimed journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault. On January 20, 2009, 1.8 million people crowded the grounds of the Capitol to witness the inauguration of Barack Obama. Among the masses was Charlayne Hunter-Gault. She had flown from South Africa for the occasion, to witness what was for many the culmination of the long struggle for civil rights in the United States. In this compelling personal history, she uses the event to look back on her own involvement in the civil rights movement, as one of two black students who forced the University of Georgia to integrate, and to relate the pivotal events that swept the South as the movement gathered momentum through the early 1960s. With poignant black-and-white photos, original articles from the New York Times, and a unique personal viewpoint, this is a moving tribute to the men and women on whose shoulders Obama stood.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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