Black Ancestors : THE BLACK ELITE: ALONZO F. HERNDON

Discussion in 'Honoring Black Ancestors' started by Isaiah, Sep 3, 2004.

  1. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    http://www.ga3d.net/sweetauburn/alherndon.htm

    Alright Black folks, I'm certain this sort of thread will touch folks in different ways, but I wanted to present this page, and possibly this thread, to explore class in African American history... Like most things in the universe, it has it's colors, and Black and White are among them... In essence, there is something positive and something negative to being a rich Black man or woman in 19th and early 20th century America... I would like us to explore and expose it all for what it is, and was...

    Rich African Americans have been both our blessing and curse... In attempting to hold on to what they'd accumulated, the oft stood in the way of our collective progress... They oft acted as the buffer between the White oppressor and the Black Oppressed... Sometimes their motives were quite well intentioned, oft they were pretty selfish... When the Great Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth was doing battle against the demonic Eugene Theopolis "Bull" Connor down in Birmingham, he also had to fight the A.G. Gastons, and the Tuskeegee Black Elites... Down in Durham, North Carolina, where North Carolina Mutual Insurance became, at the early dawn of the 20th century, the largest Black-Owned business in the world, the owners were instrumental in destroying one of the most progressive African American trade unions, Winston-Salem's Local 22 Food, Tobacco, Agricultural and Allied Workers... The local was established and led by African American women and men, and had established schools, and a Black history library for their children in the the 1930's! But to protect their fiefdom, the Black Elite collaborated with powerful Durham whites, to destroy this union...

    Ironically, African Americans supported this great symbol of Black achievement despite its incursions against their collective progress... That was understandable then, as it would be now... But longstoryshort, the Black Elite have been a good thing, and a correspondingly negative thing for us, as Africans... Would that a few of us at this board could bring our minds together to examine their legacy... Enjoy the page, peops... I will present more down the line...

    Peace!
    Isaiah
     
  2. NNQueen

    NNQueen going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

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    A thought came to me a moment ago as I contemplated the back and forth discussion in another thread, "Trouble in Alphaville?" I started searching for information. I don't know, my head must have been in the sand on this (which happens from time-to-time when my mind isn't mature enough to absorb information) but I never knew or don't recall members of Black Greek Letter Organizations being described as the Black Elite. Duh!! :confused: I mean, on an economic level as I think about it, it makes sense, but as we so often talk about Black people coming together on a united front, it's important, if not critical, that we recognize the existence of CLASS among us and question whether that ideal will ever be possible or beneficial to ALL of us.

    Wikipedia describes the history of the American Black Upper Class, as follows:

    "Not long after Africans were brought to the Americas in the 17th and 18th centuries and sold into slavery, nonconsensual sexual relations (i.e. rape) and consensual sexual relations took place between slave owners and enslaved Africans. The biracial offspring, sometimes referred to as mulattoes, were sometimes not enslaved by their white slave-holding fathers and comprised a large part of the free black population in the American South.[3] In addition to this group, numbers of Africans escaped to freedom during the instability of the American Revolution. Others were manumitted by their enslavers. The free black community in the U.S. had therefore increased considerably by 1800, and although most of these free people were very poor, some were able to acquire farmland or to learn mechanical or artistic trades.[4]

    Some runaway slaves served in the Civil War for the Union and at the conclusion of the war, some of those African-American soldiers received 40 acres (160,000 m2) and a mule which contributed to land ownership among African Americans following the Emancipation of slaves.

    Other former slaves, often light-skinned former house slaves who shared ancestry with their onetime owners and who had acquired marketable skills such as cooking and tailoring, worked in domestic fields or were able to open small businesses such as restaurants and catering firms. Some free blacks in the North also founded small businesses and even newspapers.[5] The members of these families were able to get a head-start on those blacks who were essentially still enslaved by their lack of access to wealth accumulation, particularly when it came to owning their own land.[6]

    As a result of Jim Crow laws that prohibited certain rights if a person was of African heritage, many African-Americans were forced to be enterprising by establishing businesses that served their own people. Some of those businesses included black-owned hotels, insurance agencies, funeral homes and various retail stores. A "Black Wall Street" once existed in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and the Georgetown area of Washington D.C. was known for its affluent African American professionals during segregation. In fact, the level of business ownership among African-Americans was the highest during the era of legal segregation. Owing to integration following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many black-owned businesses suffered because of their inability to compete with white-owned establishments that had better access to financing."

    This thread has been sitting here, untouched for 8 years. I believe it has tremendous value and relevance to a number of different discussions being had here.

    Other opinions?
     
  3. skuderjaymes

    skuderjaymes Contextualizer Synthesizer MEMBER

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    Peace NNQueen,

    warning.. this post wanders around a bit.. but I found it necessary to support my point. My intent was to speak to the black-owned-businesses-failing-after-segregation part but a bunch of other stuff came with that.. it really is a web of cause and effect...

    anyway..

    You said: "Owing to integration following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many black-owned businesses suffered because of their inability to compete with white-owned establishments that had better access to financing."
    ".

    They failed because the civil rights act of 1964 was actually a redistribution of wealth. The closing of black schools meant the re-routing of government funds from black areas to white areas. And those white areas were not hiring black teachers and administrators.. they went out and hired more white women.. remember.. the civil rights act included white women as a minority group also.. and so what they essentially did was dismantle the most stable stream of income for black communities. And those government dollars ended up in collection plates at churches.. in department store cash registers.. in college funds.. under mattresses.. etc. That money was a huge part of the segregated economy. What the lily-white men of congress did with the CRA of 1964 was take the stream of government funds that had sustained.. not only.. black families.. but funds that were the lifeblood of whole communities. In a nutshell.. they took our jobs and gave them to their wives and daughters.

    And I'll tell you why.

    It was a direct response to the perceived threat of black people being in control of their own education. Look at all of the turmoil of the 50's and 60's.. and recognize that very many of our greatest thinkers and doers got their education in segregated schools.. second hand books and all.. lack of equitable funding and all.. those schools were still succeeding.
    Believe me.. they never thought that we would do what we did with what little we had.. just like they never thought we would do what we did with their lily white Jesus.. black folks turned him into something altogether different.. turned him into a source of strength and solidarity. And if we table the christian/anti-christian argument and instead take a look at the historical record.. we will see the church bombings, the murders of civil rights leaders, cointelpro and the Civil Rights Bill of 1964 as all part of the same effort. They had to break-up the bases of our cultural strength.. and they hit every single one of them.. Social, Political, Economic, Even Spiritual. Before you knew it.. our men were drafted and sent off to the jungle to fight for no good reason.. with half of the ones that survived coming home with PTSD and a government-assisted drug habit ( ) that would be key to next wave of the assault against Africans in America.

    And so I'm suggesting that the primary reason those "black-owned businesses suffered" had more to do with all of that than financing. You combine that with the exhalted status that black folks gave to anything white.. and what you get is the facilitated destruction of our economy by congress and the abandonment of black businesses by black consumers on the other hand.

    (in fact.. that abandonment of us by us appears again and again in our cultural history. I wonder just how far back it goes.)

    phew.. ok..

    Peace again..
     
  4. NNQueen

    NNQueen going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Bro. Skuderjaymes,

    Thank you for that powerful summary that gave solid reasons for our decline as a community. Integration and desgregation...who knew? Allow me to share with you some of my experiences that causes me to agree with your comments.

    I am a product of the 1960s...grew up in the South under Jim Crow...experienced the full impact of segregation and lived in an all-Black community that thrived. Many Blacks had employment outside our community but job earnings were spent INSIDE the Black community thus they were able to create a solid infrastructure that included home-ownership, thriving businesses, schools, medical facilities, churches, entertainment, playgrounds and more importantly, there was UNITY among us. The so-called Black elite lived alongside Blacks with less education. There was obvious harmony there.

    There was employment opportunities IN the community as well that consisted of college educated professionals, skilled tradesmen, and laborers. Policeman that were assigned to our community were Black, many had grown up there. Racism really didn't 'touch' the youth in the community until they ventured outside of its boundaries for whatever reasons they needed to and even then, there was a wall of protection that encased us by our parents / guardians--we were taught how to stay out of trouble while in the midst of white folk. At least, in my community it was this way. We were happy people and as I reflect on those times when I was growing up, I recognize that there was a strong sense of pride in our community that has long been forgotten since integration was permitted. Sadly, I doubt we'll ever be able to experience that again.

    I remember the night that a town hall meeting was called by leaders of the NAACP to inform Black parents sitting in an all Black school auditorium that the Supreme Court had enforced the Brown decision and expected their children to desegregate all-white schools. Some Black parents were convinced that white kids had access to a better education than their children and they wanted that for their children. At the start of my sophomore year in high school, I and 20 other students like me were assigned to attend a white school in an affluent white district. Up until that time I had very little to no interactions with white people on any level and I wasn't happy about changing that. Not raised to question my parents though, I obeyed and with a sense of trepidation, I attended the school and graduated from there. At 16, I consciously became angry and disgusted for the first time about racism. The system didn't care about me and I certainly didn't make it easy for them to deal with me. But that's another story.

    Integration has destroyed my community and probably other communities like it nation-wide. Businesses began to fail as people began to spend money OUTSIDE the community for the first time. 'Other' businesses that were franchises began to move in and small Black-owned businesses that had thrived for years, began to shut down. Black professionals moved OUTSIDE the community and took their businesses with them as they purchased homes in newly integrated communities. I'm sure they thought that was a "step up." Storefronts and entertainment businesses that were within walking distance boarded up doors as shopping malls owned by whites became more popular even if they were several bus rides away. Property taxes increased causing families to lose homes and mortgage interest rates increased as well as powerful real estate investors in the north looked to convert the land into expensive housing complexes.

    I witnessed all that you mentioned in your powerful commentary, Bro. Skuderjaymes. My community is a shell of what it used to be. In my opinion, more was lost than was gained. I have long felt that the worst thing that ever happened to Blacks in America was legalized integration and desegregation of our schools. Mainstreaming Black folk caused our destruction as a community.
     
  5. chuck

    chuck Well-Known Member MEMBER

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  6. chuck

    chuck Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    First of all: I believe one and all need to recall the constant meddling even the Kennedy brothers were a reflection of, whenever King and the Civil Rights mainstays did or said things which JFK. etc. felt or thought their white southern democrat counterparts wouldn't go for...

    Even some things King Jr. was trying to bring about he had to do in spite of the aformentioned...

    Also King Jr. made his 'I have a dream' speech, in spite of conservative black leaders, who didn't even want him at the March on Washington to begin with!

    So there's some truth to Malcolm's comments during his own 'grassroots' speech about the results that came after that march...

    As in: Slim and none...

    My and the point:

    Whatever the progressive element had intended, the conservative faction sold them out...

    Hence is how the white status quo coopted a progressive moment, offered little more than federal civil rights laws, then during the era of J. Edgar Hoover, seldom chose to enforce those laws...

    It was only after King himself was slain, and hundreds of cities went up in flames as a response, that is when the white powers that be desegregated everything overnight...

    So long overdue, for us who were or are devotees of King or Malcolm, to quit pointing fingers of blame at each other's efforts to help our relations...

    We all got or get played, while others did or do get paid...

    FYI...

     
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