Books by Martin Luther
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
* * * * *
Louis E. Lomax
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
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
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
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
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
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.
basic factors provide the explanation for the current racial
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.
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
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.
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.
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. …
current events have reduced the civil-rights struggle to a moral
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
The Civil-Rights Struggle in America.
Basic Books, Inc., 1964.
* * *
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
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
The Reluctant African (1960),
The Negro Revolt (1962),
When the Word Is Given:
A Report on Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and Black Muslim
Thailand: The War That Is, The War
That Will Be (1967), and
To Kill a Black Man
* * *
The Reluctant African
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)
* * *
Coltrane, "Alabama" /
Kalamu ya Salaam, "Alabama"
A Love Supreme
A Blues for the Birmingham Four
/ Eulogy for the Young Victims
/ Six Dead After Church
My Story, My Song (Featuring blues guitarist Walter Wolfman Washington)
* * *
* * *
in Their Eyes
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
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.
* * * * *
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.—
* * *
By Kenneth W. Mack
Representing the Race
The Creation of the Civil Rights Lawyer
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
* * * * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
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Ancient African Nations
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Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
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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
George Jackson /
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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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posted 9 May 2005