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for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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I am moved to comment that we Negroes are convinced that we are,

on the whole, better Americans than our white brothers



Books by Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Strength to Love / The Measure of a Man Why We Can't Wait

A Testament of Hope  /  A Knock at Midnight   /  The Papers of  Martin Luther King, Jr., 1948-1963


Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story


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The Unpredictable Negro

By Louis E. Lomax


This is the era of the unpredictable Negro.  We are unpredictable because we have but lost faith in the basic integrity of the white power structure.  Thus it seems neither practical nor wise that we continue to make our plea through the traditional channels and in the expected manner.

Once upon a time—and everybody didn’t live happily ever after—the Negro, North and South, could be relied upon to behave in a fairly well-prescribed patterns.  Our reaction to injustices seldom got beyond mass meetings; when they did we moved through recognized leadership organizations to make our plea in the solemnity of the courtroom.  Unwittingly to be sure—but no less certainly—by limiting our approach to the courtroom we maintained our predictability and made it possible for the white power structure to thwart our efforts consistently. …

To ward off federal action, the South has adopted a philosophy of token integration.  A few well-screened, well-scrubbed Negroes have been allowed into previously all-white classrooms and the South is well on its way to confirming Mississippi Senator James Eastland’s prediction that efforts toward integration would bring on a century of litigation.

As a reporter who has tramped the integration circuit from Clinton, Tennessee, to Little Rock to Johannesburg, South Africa, I have heard the smothered cackles of segregationists who felt certain their delaying tactics would wear us down and insure a continuing white-dominated democracy.  What they have done, instead, is to shatter our faith in the white power structure’s will to live up to its own freedom documents.

It is now painfully clear that the Negro’s relief injustice is, and will be, directly proportional to his ability to embarrass and pressure the government during hours of international crisis.  This is a chilling conclusion but, after all, the truth is the truth; and a recognition of this truth makes ashes of Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s plea that the freedom rides disembark for a while to allow his brother a monolithic backdrop for the forthcoming talks with Western European and Communist heads of state.

Four basic factors provide the explanation for the current racial unrest:

First, the freedom rides (and they are just the beginning of many such moves) are beyond the scope and control of any one organization.  Thus, the white press’s eternal search for a “Negro leader” who can account for everything that transpires is all but ludicrous.  The initial freedom rides were planned by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).  After money had been raised and the trip arranged, CORE Director James Farmer, himself a former staff member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), called on NAACP Executive Secretary Roy Wilkins to appraise him of the trip.  Certain aspects of the rides are at variance with basic NAACP policy and Wilkins could do little more than suggest local NAACP people who would possibly give the riders aid and comfort along the way.

When the rides resulted in bloodshed at Montgomery, Dr. Martin Luther King was in Chicago.  It was Sunday and Dr. King was scheduled to fly into New York for an appearance on “Open End,” a television program, with Wilkins, Dr. Gardner Taylor, Jackie Robinson, and myself.  Instead, and I think rightly so, King flew into Montgomery and used his towering influence to contain the Negro population.

In reality, King had nothing to do with the freedom ride; nor, as I have said, did the NAACP.  Yet they all combined to offer comfort and bail to the embattled riders.  More, as Montgomery was making headlines, additional freedom riders under separate auspices were boarding buses in Atlanta for further assaults against segregation.

This kind of ground-swell action cannot be contained.  No one leader—or group of leaders for that matter—can promise anything.  They didn’t start the rides; they cannot control them.

Secondly, the point of compromise was passed at Montgomery; the issue is defined and we are now in a fight to the finish.  The various civil-rights organizations differ on many things, but in this they are one:  The assault upon segregation must get stronger, not weaker; more intense, not less frequent. …

Thirdly, current events have reduced the civil-rights struggle to a moral issue.  The Attorney-General’s plea that we cease our efforts is like the policeman telling the good man not to shoot the thief for fear that the report might disturb the slumbering community.  Would the Administration admonish the Africans of Angola to relax rather than upset the North Atlantic Treaty Organization?  Or would it advise the Africans of Kenya not to press for independence because the white settlers are not quite ready to surrender the cherished white highlands?

Finally, I am moved to comment that we Negroes are convinced that we are, on the whole, better Americans than our white brothers.  We believe in what our freedom documents say; the white power structure does not.  It follows then—at least in our minds it does—that if this country is to be saved, if it is to assume the posture it professes, we must carry the load by insisting that the Republic becomes what it swears it already is.

Although we file our suit in the name of civil rights, we actually appear as a friend of freedom and human justice.  If our plea is heard and acted upon, the West—the United States, really—will take a long step toward correcting its relationships with the non-white peoples of the world.  Most of these peoples are Western in mind and temperament; their estrangement—they call it “neutralism”—is largely due to our default on the matter of mistreatment and exploitation.

In basic terms, then, this is what the freedom rides are about.  The unpredictable Negro is on the loose; he is apt to oppose segregation anywhere, any time, in any manner.  And when he does the powerful leadership organizations will forget their bickering and close ranks about him.

We know the Republic is embarrassed by these incidents.  But experience has taught us that our relief is coincident with that embarrassment.  We deny, however, that we occasion the embarrassment.  When we sit in a waiting room, we are talking the Constitution to mean what it says, we understand the Supreme Court to mean what it says.  It is the segregationists who are wielding the iron pipes and unleashing the savage dogs.  If those who apply the law embarrass the Republic more than those who abort it, and if the law-abiding rather than the lawbreakers must cease and desist, then the American promise is but a cruel joke on humanity and the American dream dissolves to the most God-awful nightmare.

Source: Westin, Alan F., ed. Freedom Now!  The Civil-Rights Struggle in America. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1964.

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Louis Lomax was born in Valdosta, Georgia, on August 16, 1922, and died July 30, 1970. His mother, Sarah, died shortly after he was born and Lomax fell under the guardianship of his maternal grandmother, Rozena Lomax, a well-known writer of religious plays.After finishing Dasher High School, Lomax attended Paine College in Augusta Georgia, graduating in 1942. He became editor of the college paper, The Paineite. Lomax’s career as a professional writer began with the Baltimore Afro-American. After doing graduate work at American University (M.A., 1944), he joined the faculty of Georgia State College, in Savannah, where he served as assistant professor of philosophy. Subsequently he did additional graduate study at Yale University (Ph.D., 1947) and became a staff feature writer for Chicago American until 1958. Lomax’s freelance articles have appeared in Harper’s, Life Pageant, The Nation and The New Leader. In 1959 Lomax joined Mike Wallace’s news staff in New York and became the first member of his race to appear on television as a newsman and interviewed Malcolm X for documentary on Nation of Islam, The Hate That Hate Produced.

In 1961, Lomax narrated a program on KTVS TV, Channel 13, Shreveport, Louisiana entitled "Walk in My Shoes." From 1964 to 1968 he hosted twice-weekly Los Angeles television show on KTTV; lectured widely on college campuses. Lomax died in automobile accident near Santa Rosa, New Mexico. He and his wife lived in Jamaica, New York. Lomax author of books including The Reluctant African (1960), The Negro Revolt (1962), When the Word Is Given: A Report on Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and Black Muslim World (1963), Thailand: The War That Is, The War That Will Be (1967), and To Kill a Black Man (1968).

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The Reluctant African (1960) / The Negro Revolt (1962) /

Mississippi eyewitness: The three civil rights workers, how they were murdered (1964)

To Kill a Black Man: The Shocking Parallel in the Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. (1987)

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John Coltrane, "Alabama"  /  Kalamu ya Salaam, "Alabama"  / A Love Supreme

A Blues for the Birmingham Four  /  Eulogy for the Young Victims   / Six Dead After Church Bombing 

Audio: My Story, My Song (Featuring blues guitarist Walter Wolfman Washington)

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#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

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#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 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


#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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Blood in Their Eyes
y Grif Stockley

Blood in Their Eyes is required reading for every Arkansas lawyer, because this time Grif Stockley reviews the work of a real Gideon Page, a black lawyer named Scipio Jones who read law to become licensed and became one of Arkansas' outstanding lawyers. Jones is credited with one of the most important cases in American history, Moore v. Dempsey 261 U.S. 86(1923), and standing alone many times, saved the lives of 12 innocent, albeit convicted, black sharecroppers from Elaine, Arkansas. The Elaine race riot, as history until now has called it, is an awful blemish on Arkansas history. It is such a blemish that most historians have treated it lightly or shied away from it. But Grif Stockley, an outstanding Arkansas lawyer in his own right, is not known for shying away from much of anything, and he tackles the issue head on in his first writing on Arkansas history. In typical lawyer fashion Stockley analyzes the facts and writes his brief in Blood in Their Eyes

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake.

She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.WashingtonPost

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Representing the Race

The Creation of the Civil Rights Lawyer

By Kenneth W. Mack

Representing the Race tells the story of an enduring paradox of American race relations, through the prism of a collective biography of African American lawyers who worked in the era of segregation. . . . Mack reorients what we thought we knew about famous figures such as Thurgood Marshall, who rose to prominence by convincing local blacks and prominent whites that he was—as nearly as possible—one of them. But he also introduces a little-known cast of characters to the American racial narrative. These include Loren Miller, the biracial Los Angeles lawyer who, after learning in college that he was black, became a Marxist critic of his fellow black attorneys and ultimately a leading civil rights advocate; and Pauli Murray, a black woman who seemed neither black nor white, neither man nor woman, who helped invent sex discrimination as a category of law. The stories of these lawyers pose the unsettling question: what, ultimately, does it mean to “represent” a minority group in the give-and-take of American law and politics? / For Love of Liberty

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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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Negro Digest / Black World

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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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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 9 May 2005




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Related files: Malcolm X and Civil Rights  Living Scripture in Community   Louis Lomax Bio and Notes