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Will the Ferguson protest force development of African-American leaders?

15 August 2014

Summary: The Ferguson protests lacked leadership, and so quickly devolved into counter-productive riots. It’s a common problem. Will future protests nurture a new generation of leaders?

Martin Luther King Jr

We need him again

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Peasants’ protests are a commonplace in history, such as The Great Rising of 1381. The lack of competent leadership distinguishes peasants’ protests from effective means of social change.

Some peasants’ protests are just mobs. Emergent leadership is a rare gift.

Some peasants’ protests have leaders, but not competent ones. Wat Tyler led The Great Rising, bringing his horde to London. King Richard met with Tyler, courteously listened to the peasants’ complaints, thanked him for coming, and killed him. Competent emergent leadership is an extraordinarily rare gift.

And some have great leaders. The Civil Rights movements accomplished great things, steered by its strong leaders (headed by Martin Luther King). The Tea Party was an effective tool for social changed, organized and wielded by a conservative faction of our ruling elites. Five years later it’s still going strong.

The 1992 LA Riots were peasants’ protests, violent but ineffectual. The Occupy Movement was a series of classic peasants’ protests — celebratory venting of social tension, ending with violent suppression, leaving little behind. The Fergruson protests (ending in a riot) were peasants’ protests.

Will the gross overreaction of the police to the Ferguson protests have political repercussions? Perhaps. I suspect the odds are low. The police created an opportunity which an organization (or coalition) could exploit, if one existed.

African-American leaders

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The Right has been winning on most issues for a decade. Their superiority results from greater resources and better planning. For example, consider how many of America’s leading Black political leaders are on the Right. Herman Cain, entrepreneur and 2012 GOP Presidential Candidate. Theodore Sowell, intellectual. Supreme Court Justice Thomas. GOP National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.  Leaders are a crop that can be produced with well-funded effort.

The Left has made no comparable effort, and hence the thin ranks of high-profile African-American leaders on the Left. Even Obama rules as a center-right leader. And too many are like Al Sharpton.

Protests might spread from Ferguson, fueled by continued shootings of young Black men for frivolous reasons — usually without consequences for the shooters (whether police or civilian). If so, they will be futile unless leadership emerges.

Oath Keepers

Not going to help

 

There is leadership and organization on the Right

Such as among these people: “Oath Keepers is Going ‘Operational’ by Forming Special ‘Civilization Preservation’ Teams” posted at their website, 1 October 2013 — Opening:

Oath Keepers is instructing its 30,000 members nation-wide to form up special teams and sub-teams in each Oath Keepers chapter, at the town and county level, modeled loosely on the Special Forces “A Team” (Operational Detachment A ) model, and for a similar purpose:

  1. community security and support during crisis,
  2. to be both a potential operational unit for community security and support during crisis, but also,
  3. as mission #1, to serve as training and leadership cadre, to assist in organizing neighborhood watches, organizing veterans halls to provide community civil defense, forming County Sheriff Posses, strengthening existing CERT, volunteer fire, search-and-rescue, reserve deputy systems, etc., and eventually
  4. to assist in forming and training town and county militias (established by official act of town and county elected representatives).

There are many police among their members. Don’t expect them to help in any protests against police violence.

For More Information

(a)  Posts about the events in Ferguson, MO:

  1. Our elites smile at events in Ferguson, MO. They’ll cry if it pushes Blacks to try 4GW., 14 August 2014
  2. Will the Ferguson protest force development of African-American leaders?, 15 August 2014
  3. Why America has militarized its police and crushes protests, 16 August 2014
  4. The protesters at Ferguson might have won, but choose to lose, 18 August 2014
  5. Events from Ferguson explain why we are weak, 19 August 2014

(b)  About the Oath Keepers:

  1. About the Oath Keepers: boon or bane for the Republic?
  2. The Oath Keepers want to give America its own Freikorps!

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. 15 August 2014 12:15 pm

    It is unlikely that any Black leaders will arise. Blacks do not tend to produce them and this is even more true since the “Civil Rights” era destroyed most, if not all, of the capacity for Blacks to come together nonviolently to address their real problems.

    Like

    • Thornton Prayer permalink
      15 August 2014 6:13 pm

      I’m always amazed that people who are not African-American seem to be so knowledgeable about black social, political, and cultural life. Given the long-standing social and cultural segregation of African-Americans from mainstream American society, declarations of detailed insight into black life by non-blacks typifies the continuing arrogance of the racism that has long stained American culture.

      The blatant inaccuracy of the putative lack of black leadership, past and present, is belied by the century long struggle pre-Civil War through the Civil Rights movement by the many people who fought on behalf of African-Americans (note the following link is the first of three pages of links about individual African-American activists):

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:African-Americans'_civil_rights_activists

      There are two ugly ironies in jonolon’s comment. The first, stemming from his statement regarding African-Americans’ supposed inability to “come together nonviolently”, is that black people who have put themselves in the forefront of demanding basic civil liberties have always known that challenging white supremacy was to risk a violent and deadly reaction. Said reaction meant a likelihood of financial and social ruination at least, more likely physical assaults, and very possibly DEATH. Here is substantive evidence of prominent African-Americans (and others) who stood up for black civil rights and who lost their lives post-Reconstruction and during the Civil Rights era:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nadir_of_American_race_relations

      http://www.splcenter.org/civil-rights-memorial/civil-rights-martyrs

      The “Civil Rights” struggle didn’t destroy the capacity of black people to come together nonviolently. The basic reality is that although Civil Rights era revolutionized the social and political space African-Americans have in our overall society, it happened at the cost of the lives of many blacks and whites, known and not so well known. In short, that second ugly irony from jonolon’s claim that black people cannot address their problems nonviolently as a result of the Civil Rights era is that the many African-Americans who could have made a substantive and non-violent difference in the black community today were violently killed. I put the question to jonolon very simply – if standing up for your basic dignity as an African-American has always had a high likelihood to get you killed by non-African-Americans, is violent behavior to resolve critical social and political issues truly the exclusive realm of black Americans? I think not. American history drips too many rivers of blood to claim otherwise.

      One final point – I would argue that there is no one of any ethnicity in today’s society who matches the caliber of past American leaders be they black, white, hispanic, or any other background. The political rot that Fabius Maximus highlights in today’s America demonstrates a comprehensive failure across ALL cultural and social groups (political, economic, religious, etc.) to generate powerful and wise leadership. I don’t think there is anyone in the current era who is close to having the wisdom and gravitas of a Lincoln, FDR, or MLK. To demand that African-Americans exclusively produce exceptional people in today’s environment when no one else is doing so seems frankly ridiculous. Our failure is collective and mutual, not simply a province of black Americans alone.

      No one going to save us from our stupidity and weaknesses regarding race, politics, economics, or any other arena in today’s America. The bitter fruit for all Americans is that we keeps expecting someone, ANYONE, to save us from our own folly, then blame anyone except ourselves for our own cravenness.

      We certainly have the capacity to regenerate our country for the better. The question is do we have the will. The Ferguson protests certainly hint at the need but will that need be fulfilled? We’re about to find out, won’t we?

      Like

    • 15 August 2014 6:43 pm

      Thornton,

      Thanks for this fascinating comment. Lot’s of interesting material there, worth much thought.

      Like

    • 16 August 2014 2:54 am

      Thornton,

      “I would argue that there is no one of any ethnicity in today’s society who matches the caliber of past American leaders be they black, white, hispanic, or any other background. The political rot … in today’s America demonstrates a comprehensive failure across ALL cultural and social groups (political, economic, religious, etc.) to generate powerful and wise leadership.”

      I understand your point. I would look at this from two other perspectives.

      (1) We have leaders. The Right just pays best. Even Obama was lured to success in the Center-Right.

      (2) We have other potential leaders. But I wonder if we have those willing to follow them. Followers select leaders; perhaps the weakness is ours.

      Like

  2. Stranger in a Strange Land permalink
    15 August 2014 8:28 pm

    I believe that your post here falls squarely within the category of “blaming the victim”.

    The problem (violence erupting at a protest) lies more with the inappropriate police response to what started out as peaceful protests than with any lack of Black leadership.

    From what I have seen and read (admittedly from a distance) it seems that there were several local and community leaders who urged the protesters to stay calm and exercise their constitutional right to “peaceably assemble and…petition the Government for a redress of grievances”.

    But the Ferguson police department chose to escalate the already tense situation from the very beginning and meet the protesters with riot gear and what amounted to a show of military force, something that has been seen over and over again in many Third world dictatorships around the world, yet not so often in this country.

    Now that the Ferguson PD has been relieved of all responsibility for security and Captain Ronald Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol has been appointed to take over and allow the protests to proceed in a peaceful fashion, there has been a complete turnaround in the nature of those protests. This more or less disproves your thesis (i.e., that the problem lies with a lack of Black leadership) and shows that the real problem lies with an improper police response to the protests.

    Like

    • 15 August 2014 8:43 pm

      Stranger,

      Yes, people are responsible for themselves and their communities. That is why we are a Republic.

      If we were not responsible, then we would be subjects.

      That’s the harsh reality, the great circle of life. Dance around this to your heart’s content with many fine pretty large words. It makes no difference.

      As for the Ferguson police, see the next post. Summary: to see the goal (intent), look at the result. When you become God, you can speak from Heaven about “proper” and “improper” police responses.

      Meanwhile my guess is that the police will continue to bulk up on military equipment, recruit people interested in using force, train in massive use of force, attempt to prevent protests by massive display of power, and strive to minimize future protests by making an example of crushing protests.

      If there is a large-scale return to community policing, then you are right and I am wrong.

      I had many such conversations with well-spoken armchair gods when news broke about the NSA’s surveillance nets. I said that little or nothing would change, that these stories supported the security State by boosting the public’s fear of them, and that their growth would continue. And so it has proven.

      Like

    • 16 August 2014 2:59 am

      Stranger,

      A second try at a reply.

      “within the category of “blaming the victim”.”

      Speaking of groups — not vulnerable individuals — of course the “victims” have responsibility. That doesn’t mean they are not victims, but rather by the harsh workings of life. African-American leaders of the past might agree with me: Booker T. Washington, Martin Luther King Jr, or Malcolm X. All advocates of groups standing for themselves against their foes — they might have allies, but none will act except in support of their own action.

      Like

  3. Steve permalink
    16 August 2014 4:46 am

    The civil rights movement, which as you say accomplished great things guided by its strong leaders , was not a creature of those few strong leaders but of hundreds, perhaps thousands of people organized over a generation in preparation. Perhaps what is missing in America today is that there is little work going on to train citizens to be citizens and leaders in this sense. Two books come to mind “I’ve got the light of freedom: the organizing tradition and the Mississippi freedom struggle ” by Charles M Payne and “At The Dark And Of The Street – black women, rape, and resistance – a new history of the civil rights movement from Rosa Parks to the rise of black power” by Danielle L Maguire.

    Like

    • 16 August 2014 5:18 am

      Steve,

      “was not a creature of those few strong leaders but of hundreds, perhaps thousands of people”

      Is that pretty much the definition of a mass movement?

      “organized over a generation in preparation.”

      Organized by whom?

      “Perhaps what is missing in America today is that there is little work going on to train citizens to be citizens”

      Perhaps so. Comparing such things now and then is, unfortunately, almost impossible.

      “and leaders in this sense.”

      Most youth organizations these days claim to be teaching leaders.

      Like

  4. Duncan Kinder permalink
    16 August 2014 4:54 am

    Rather than directly respond to your post, I will provide everybody with some little known background info about the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

    Prior to that boycott, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Ralph Abernathy, and other soon-to-be famous civil rights leaders had attended the legendary Highlander Center in Tennessee.

    The Highlander Center has long been a training facility for activism in the South and Appalachia.

    http://highlandercenter.org/

    Highlander has provided training and education for the labor movement in Appalachia and throughout the Southern United States. During the 1950s, it played a critical role in the American Civil Rights Movement. It trained civil rights leader Rosa Parks prior to her historic role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, as well as providing training for many other movement activists including the members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Septima Clark, Anne Braden, Martin Luther King, Jr., James Bevel, Hollis Watkins, Bernard Lafayette, Ralph Abernathy and John Lewis in the mid- and-late 1950s.

    The civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome” was adapted (from a gospel song) by Highlander music director Zilphia Horton, wife of Myles Horton, from the singing of striking tobacco factory workers in South Carolina in 1946, and shortly afterward was published by folksinger Pete Seeger in the People’s Songs bulletin. It was revived at Highlander by Guy Carawan, who succeeded Zilphia Horton as Highlander’s music director in 1959. Guy Carawan taught the song to SNCC at their first convening at Shaw University. The song has since spread and become one of the most recognizable movement songs in the world.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highlander_Research_and_Education_Center

    When Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus, that was spontaneous not planned. But she had been prepared to respond, as were King, Abernathy, and the others who started the boycott.

    There are many morals to this story, including “There is a time for every purpose” and “He also serves who only stands and waits.”

    As for today’s blacks – it is the 2010’s, not the 1950’s, so their response should reflect today’s realities and not yesterday’s nostrums. Nor should be be so obsessed with the great Martin Luther King that we forget Malcolm X.

    And one of today’s realities is that a contemporary rights movement is more likely to be spearheaded by the Hispanics than by the Blacks. This is because today’s climate is transnational, not national, and the Hispanics are better situated to pursue matters on a transnational basis. Blacks are more likely to be a subplot – much as Hispanics had been a subplot in the 1960’s.

    As for me – I’m an Appalachian white male. You know. Like Miles Horton, founder of the Highlander Center ( though nowhere near his stature. ).

    Like

    • guest permalink
      16 August 2014 8:57 am

      Adding to this comment, what I read on the history of the Civil Rights movement stressed that there was a pre-existing organization that those leaders could rely upon: churches. In fact, MLK and others were cadre in those black churches and therefore already had an organizational training, awareness and responsibilities. Besides, because of segregation, the Sunday service was a favorable setting for local black communities to meet and coordinate actions.

      I just wonder what the equivalent framework would be nowadays (for whatever social group).

      Like

    • 16 August 2014 3:05 pm

      Guest,

      Circumstances are always different, as you note. African-Americans today have large numbers in middle class professions, including current or former military officers and corporate executives. Potential leaders.

      On the other hand, what are their internal social organizations? I don’t know. Perhaps someone can tells us.

      Like

  5. guest2 permalink
    16 August 2014 1:22 pm

    Reince Priebus? You are thinking of Michael Steele.

    Like

  6. Steve permalink
    17 August 2014 12:25 am

    Organized by a number of interrelated organizations, including SNCC, the highlander school, and so many black churches which had such an amazing seriousness of purpose. Rosa Parks, for example, had been a rape investigator, helping black women who were systematically “taught their place” decades before the bus boycott. She was prepared and it was anything but spontaneous. We could learn so much about training and being trained as small “l” leaders from these histories.

    Like

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