Paul R. Lehman, American Democracy: Truth, Falsehood, Falsehoods as truths, and Reality (Part one of three)

May 8, 2017 at 3:56 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, black inferiority, blacks, Civil Right's Act 1964, Constitutional rights, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, Disrespect, DNA, education, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, fairness, happiness, identity, integregation, justice, law, liberty, life, Martin Luther King Jr., minority, Prejudice, President Obama, race, Race in America, racism, segregation, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, the Black Codes, The National Museum of African American History and Culture, The U.S. Constitution, tribalism, U. S. Census, whites | 2 Comments
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PART ONE  

A young European American (white) man in his middle to late twenties was being interviewed on a television show; he was dressed in a suit and wore a tie. What he said during the course of the interview was in effect, that he was a white man, and he wanted to see America regain its rightful place as a white man’s country. He was apparently upset because he believed that he was losing his power, influence, and privileges. From the expression on his face, it was apparent that the young man believed in what he was saying, and believed it to be the truth. Some Americans might be surprised by what the young man said because they do not believe that he was speaking the truth. Well, what exactly is the truth as far as the young man was concerned? The problem of truth began with America’s beginning.

Before we can begin a discussion about truth, we need first to have a working definition of truth. We might suggest that truth, in a statement, is represented by fact or reality. In another sense, we might suggest that truth is relative to the individual regardless of facts and reality. So, where does that leave us regarding truth? How can both suggestions be accurate? The key to the answer has to do with how we view facts and reality.

What we find in American society is evidence that truth is viewed as both relative to the individual and based on facts and reality. Here is how it works. Society first proclaimed certain truths, then proceeded to ignore them, inventing falsehoods in their place and convincing the people to accept the falsehoods as truth. Now that the falsehoods have been uncovered, the people do not want to accept the truth. To demonstrate how this happened, we need to look at history. We begin with the words from the Declaration of Independence:” We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The first thing we note in this statement is the word “truths, “which carries with it the semblance of facts and reality. We generally accept the sincerity and honesty of the word truth. The next phrase is equally important to our understanding of truth as being “self-evident “or clear and acceptable to all. We have no reason to suspect anything being amiss about what follows this first phrase: “that all men are created equal.” Well, if we know anything about early American history and the founding fathers, we know that the author of those words, Thomas Jefferson, as well as other founding fathers, were slaveholders. How can one believe in the equality of all men and be a slaveholder? Easy enough make slaves less than human. But what about other men and women who cannot enjoy the equal rights of the wealthy European American men? Simply write laws that control their freedoms.

In the phrase that follows, three words stand out: “endowed,””unalienable,” and “rights, “and all invite interpretation. The first word, “endowed” can be interpreted as a gift or something provided to the individual. The next word, “unalienable” can be defined as not transferable to another or not capable of being taken away or denied. The term “rights “can be defined as freedoms, entitlements or justified claims. Following this introduction of privileges that cannot be denied and are freedoms available to all, we learn what they are: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These rights and those contained in the Constitution are called civil rights. All American citizens are entitled to celebrate and enjoy them. We could examine each one of these rights to show that all Americans have never experienced them in reality because of two important things associated with American history: slavery and bigotry. The institution of slavery made certain that the words of the preamble to the Constitution would never ring true: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice….” The remainder of the preamble loses its value when we realize that “justice” was never established while a system of slavery was in existence. After slavery, laws were instituted to retain control of certain groups of American citizens.

The young European American man who considered himself a white man represents the reality of a falsehood being believed as truth. He is not being an extremist or extraordinary with his assertions, he is simply saying what American society has conditioned him to believe. The social conditioning he has received all his life is at its core a system that fosters a belief in European American (white) supremacy. So, regardless of what the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution, or even the Pledge of Allegiance says about all men being equal with all their civil rights, including liberty and justice for all, reality provides those truths for European Americans only.

The system of European American (white) supremacy was invented and instituted by the founding fathers and woven into all America’s social institutions. What was unknown to the young European American man was that the system in which he was nurtured and conditioned was based on a falsehood. The system of European American (white) supremacy was based on the false concept of reality consisting of two races, one black, and one white. The European American (white) race was presented as being the model for humanity as well as America’s standard of beauty. European Americans generally do not picture themselves as belonging to a race. People who do not look like them belong to a race. Another characteristic of being European American was that they were to consider themselves as the center of the universe, superior to all people of color, so their only equals were other European Americans.

To ensure that the concept of supremacy was received and perceived as ordinary and normal, the government instituted segregation, which meant that European Americans could live their entire lives without having to interact with a person of color. Discrimination was instituted to ensure that European Americans receive privileges above and beyond what was offered to people of color, especially in education, jobs, health care, salaries, housing, and the law. In all these areas, the African Americans were denied opportunities to participate as first-class citizens and denied their civil rights.

Paul R. Lehman, Dialogues on race will not unite America, but keep it divided.

July 15, 2016 at 6:15 pm | Posted in African American, American history, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, Dorothy Roberts, Dr. Robin DiAngelo, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, integregation, justice, law enforcement agencies, Louisiana, Minnesota, minority, police force, poor, Prejudice, race, Race in America, skin color, social justice system, socioeconomics, Texas, University of Penn., upper class, white supremacy, whites | 2 Comments
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Since the recent incidents in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas, where the lives of African Americans and European Americans have been lost, many protest marches  across the country, many town hall meetings, and many talk shows have been conducted that focused on America being a divided country because of color—black and white. The objectives of all these activities are to somehow bring the country together harmoniously. Many recommendations and plans will be suggested and some will be implemented in an effort to correct the recent and decades-old injustices committed against African Americans by European Americans. Unfortunately, all the plans, programs, and recommendations will be short-lived because we cannot be united until we learn and fix what keeps us divided. No problem based on race will ever be resolved talking about race—black and white. Every discussion that involves race can only go in a circle; we know circles have no ends.

In order to resolve a problem involving race we must get beyond race, i.e.…we must establish an approach to discussing the nature of the problem without invoking the concept of race because if we do not, then we accomplish nothing but a waste of time. Let us be specific in identifying the problem that keeps America divided. If we say the answer is race, we are partially correct because race is the key word. However, our acceptance of the concept of race is the problem. Ever since the founding fathers invented the concept of a black race and a white race, separate and unequal, we Americans have been living our lives based on a myth, a falsehood, and an invention. The problems we experience as a divided society today are all based on our acceptance of the false concept of race. The reason for the invention of races was control of the people, all the people. For European Americans, the concept of superiority was important and necessary in order to serve as a buffer between the slaves, the poor, and the élite. The invention was/is known as the system of white supremacy and black inferiority.

The system of white supremacy does not exist in isolation, but must have the component of black inferiority to complete its existence. Both terms are different sides of the same coin. The system of supremacy became the focus of social conditioning of the psyches of all Americans. For European Americans, according to Dr. Robin DiAngelo, a European American scholar, “We [European Americans/whites] have set the world up to preserve that internal sense of superiority and also resist challenges to it. All while denying that anything is going on and insisting that race is meaningless to us.” In other words, the system of white supremacy was created to protect and perpetuate itself. She adds:”We have organized society to reproduce and reinforce our racial interest and perspectives. Further, we are centered in all matters deemed normal, universal, benign, neutral and good.”

The founding fathers based their invention of races on the color of skin which was illogical as well as irrational because skin color is not a constant determinant of race. At the time the invention was instituted the founding fathers had control of society and the power to enforce their laws. The legacy of their invention relative to people of color, and African Americans, in general, was the elements of danger, anger, fear, and hatred. These negative elements relative to people of color were/are processed as natural and normal to the perception and understanding of European Americans. African Americans were forced to view themselves in public to conform to the perception of the biased European American views. The actions of some members of law enforcement today underscore the retention of the beliefs that the system of Supremacy promoted. Our understanding of the system of white supremacy and how it influences our perceptions should tell us that any discussion involving race in society is tainted if the bias concept of white supremacy is not replaced. In essence, too many European Americans view African Americans and people of color as inferior normally. Since that is the case, any idea of fairness and justice by these European Americans will be influenced by their ethnic bias, much of which they never realize or recognize because it has always been natural and normal to them. Unfortunately, when the European American’s biased viewpoint is challenged, they can become offended because they think their sense of objectivity is being challenged.

The most challenging part of bringing together our divided country is replacing the concept of race and its lack of authenticity and reliability. A recent comment by Dorothy Roberts, a University of Pennsylvania professor, underscores the point. Race has never been defined with any consistency and Professor Roberts adds: “That’s because race is based on cultural, legal, social and political determinations, and those groupings have changed over time. As a social scientist, looking at biologists treating these groupings as if they were determined by innate genetic distinctions, I’m dumbfounded. There’s so much evidence that they’re invented social categories. How you can say this is a biological race is just absurd. It’s absurd. It violates the scientific evidence about human beings.”Unfortunately, many European Americans choose to hold on tightly to the myth.

If we can accept the factual information we know about race and supremacy, then any discussion that speaks to resolving problems concerning the concept of race must begin with a forthright rejection of a black and a white race, and the normal perception of the inferiority of people of color by European Americans . If those changes do not occur, then no reasonable and fair discussion can take place. In essence, race cannot be a part of that discussion if race is assumed to be an acceptable and legal term. We must come to understand that what divides America is the illusion of race and racial differences. If we do not debunk those illusions, we have no basis from which to build a construction together. If we are going to solve the social problems that are the results of ethnic biases, we must do so as social equals.

Paul R. Lehman, Traveling while African American–the early years.

July 4, 2016 at 7:27 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American Dream, American history, Bigotry in America, blacks, Civil Right's Act 1964, desegregation, discrimination, Equal Opportunity, Ethnicity in America, European American, happiness, integregation, Prejudice, Race in America, segregation, socioeconomics, white supremacy, whites | 3 Comments
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Today many Americans take their freedoms, liberties and privileges for granted because seldom are they challenged. One of the freedoms we all enjoy today is traveling all over the country seeing and experiencing the majesty of America the beautiful. A recent publication by the Smithsonian, and  writer Jacinda Townsend, entitled “Driving While Black”( April 2016) tells of the challenging experiences encountered by African Americans before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the efforts of one man to help relieve some of the dangers.

Townsend states that “Driving interstate distances to unfamiliar locales, black motorists ran into institutional racism in a number of pernicious forms, from hotels and restaurants that refused to accommodate them to hostile ‘sundown towns’ where posted signs warned people of color that they were banned after nightfall.”The fabric of ethnic bigotry increased after the Civil War because African Americans through their quest to become American citizens with all rights and privileges created a problem for European Americans could not see them as social equals. Therefore, in whatever manner African Americans could be deprived of liberties and freedoms, many European Americans invented and promoted these challenges.

As one might expect, African Americans traveling by automobile during segregation presented many problems. For example, some gas stations would not sell gasoline to African American customers and certainly would not allow them use of the restrooms. In some cases, the stations would sell the gasoline to African Americans, but at a higher price than the price at the pump. Because segregation was sanctioned by the government, no recourse was available to the African Americans; they were on their own. On long trips where they knew purchasing gasoline might be a problem, taking along an extra can of gas was a necessity.

Many African Americans taking long trips had the challenge of finding sleeping accommodations because the hotels or motels would not accept them. Simply traveling at night presented some problems. Townsend notes one experience of Paula Wynter, a young girl traveling with her parents in the 1950’s: “In North Carolina, her family hid in their Buick after a local sheriff passed them, made a U-turn and gave chase. Wynter’s father, Richard Irby, switched off his headlights and parked under a tree. ‘We sat until the sun came up.’ She says. ‘We saw his lights pass back and forth. My sister was crying; my mother was hysterical.’” The cover of darkness protected evil-doing bigots from getting caught from practicing their deeds against African Americans.

Two things African Americans knew to take with them when traveling by either car or bus and train—food and drink. Why? Because in most restaurants they would not be served—even one-room bus stops would not serve them. One practice that was common throughout the South and other areas of the country focused on African Americans traveling by bus. When the bus stopped for a meal break, the European Americans could go inside the establishment and order their food. The African Americans had to go around to a window in the back of the place building and place their order. However, they were forced to pay for their food at the time of placing the order. Because of ethnic bigotry in society, the European American had their orders completed first, so they had a chance to eat while seated in the establishment. Once the European Americans were served, then the orders of the African Americans were started. However, the bus drivers were only concerned that the European Americans were fed, so after their meal, thy returned to the bus ready to continue their trip. The bus driver would order all passengers on the bus at that time. The African Americans who had paid for their food were forced to leave without receiving any food and were refused their right to have their money refunded. So, they continued their trip hungry and with a money deficit for their troubles.

Things began to change for many of the African American travelers in 1937, according to the article, when an African American visionary entrepreneur, “Victor H. Green, a 44-year-old black postal carrier in Harlem, relied on his own experiences and on recommendations from black members of his postal union for the inaugural guide bearing his name, The Negro Motorist Green-Book.” At first, the 15-page book covered “the New York metropolitan area, listing establishments that welcomed blacks.” The book “created a safety net. If a person could travel by car—and those who could, did—they would feel more in control of their destiny.”For the first time, families could plan their road travel knowing that some of their problems would be addressed using the information in The Green Book.

Townsend notes that “The Green Book final edition, in 1966-67, filled 99 pages and embraced the entire nation and even some international cities. The guide pointed black travelers to places including hotels, restaurants, beauty parlors, nightclubs, golf courses and state parks.”More importantly for the traveler, Green’s book included businesses such as service stations, garages, and Road Houses. Although desegregation provided greater opportunities for African Americans to travel, the dangers and challenges of the road did not simply disappear.

Finally, the article notes that “The Green Book was indispensable to black-owned businesses. For historians, says Smithsonian curator Joanne Hyppolite, the listings offer a record of the ‘rise of the black  middle class, and in particular, of the entrepreneurship of black women.’”

Green’s book met a need for the African American traveler during the difficult period of segregation. Whether a direct influence or not, a publication that follows a similar philosophy but focuses on African American businesses is The Black Pages, for the metropolitan of St. Louis, Missouri. The expressed purpose of this publication is as stated:

St. Louis Black Pages Business Directory: For 25 years, the Black Pages Business Directory and The Transformational Agenda Magazine has served as an effective advertising vehicle for small-mid-sized businesses, non-profit organizations, and corporations across the St. Louis Metro area who have a vested interest in letting the African American community know that they’re in business and that they respect and appreciate their patronage. This highly effective advertising vehicle is penetrating a $4.86 billion market via 100,000 print copies, and engaging internet and mobile editions (for iPhone and Android).” www.blackpages.com/tag/st-loui

 

The Green Book sold its first edition for twenty-five cents; its final edition sold for $1. We note in the article that “At the height of its circulation, Green printed 20,000 books annually, which were sold at black churches, the Negro Urban League and Esso gas stations.”

Paul R. Lehman, Justice Scalia shows poor judgement in biased comments

December 11, 2015 at 5:09 am | Posted in Affirmative Action, African American, American history, Bigotry in America, blacks, desegregation, discrimination, Disrespect, education, Equal Opportunity, Ethnicity in America, justice, Justice Antonin Scalia, Prejudice, race, racism, segregation, skin color, U.S. Supreme Court, White on Arrival, whites | 2 Comments
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When Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recently made comments suggesting that African American students attend less advanced universities because they would do better academically, he was expressing a bias that was created in America as far back as the time of the founding fathers. The problem with Scalia voicing that sentiment was that it showed his lack of either knowing or understanding American history. What always happens when someone makes a statement about someone else, the focus is on the person making the statement and the motives involved. The people or person to who the statement is directed has the choice of ignoring it or responding to it. When the speaker does not want to accept responsibility for the content of the statement, he or she will usually invoke a “they” or “someone” as the source of the content. Justice Scalia used this technique when he stated that “There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well — as opposed to having them go to a less advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well…”What he did not say was that he agreed with “those” who made the comment.

The first indication of Scalia’s ignorance of history has to do with the subject of Affirmative Action and its reason for being in American society. African Americans have been discriminated, segregated, arrested, abused, and killed for wanting an education. During slavery, it was against the law for an African American to teach to read and write, and against the law for them to learn. After slavery, conditions were invented that served to preclude African Americans from acquiring an education either by the governments, federal and states or by groups of European American citizens. A door to education was cracked slightly when the “separate but equal” law was passed, but history shows that no part of that concept was to be established and enforced with concerns for the quality of education received by the African Americans. Finally, after years of protest and demonstrations the Supreme Court rules that “separate but equal” was not working and opened the public schools to all via Brown v. Topeka ruling. However, because of the systems of segregation and discrimination changes had to take place in order to put the ruling into effect—the story of school desegregation. All this historical information Justice Scalia should know.

Affirmative Action was not instituted for African Americans students to be able to attend school with European Americans; it was instituted to ensure that African Americans have the same opportunity to acquire the same education as European Americans. The court knew that the educational experiences encountered by African Americans were not equal, and they did not seek to make special provisions for African Americans who were accepted to schools—no schools lowered their standards to allow African Americans to attend. Affirmative Action simply provided an opportunity for African Americans to attend schools where they were in the past not permitted to attend simply because of the color. Justice Scalia should know this information. Evidently, he chose to ignore it; he preferred to offer a bigoted comment suggesting that African American students were not intellectually capable of succeeding in top-ranked universities.

Justice Scalia demonstrated an ignorance of his own ethnic history–his ancestry is Italian. He seems to have apparently abandoned his Italian heritage in favor of a Caucasian identity where he can demonstrate his ethnic bigotry without having to feel guilty for expressing feeling against others that were experienced by his Italian American ethnic group. Anglo-Saxon Americans did not want Italians, both from the South and North Italy coming to America because they were viewed as “racial undesirables, who were, according to men like Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard, as well as to their many allies in magazines, newspapers, and grassroots organizations, a biological, cultural, political and economic menace to the American nation.”(Thomas A. Guglielmo, White On Arrival: Italians, Race, Color, and Power in Chicago, 1890-1945, Oxford University Press, 2003, p 59) One wonders if Justice was so immersed in European American society that he was deprived of the history of many Italians upon arrival in America.

In different places in his comments, Justice Scalia uses the terms black and African Americans; he needs to know that these terms are not synonymous—black refers to a color, not an identity, or a culture, although some people have tried to use it as such. African American identifies both an ancestral and cultural identity. So, when he stated that “I don’t think it stands to reason for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible,” to whom was he making a reference? Many students of color from many countries attend the University of Texas. If the Justice is speaking specifically of African American students, he should make that clear.

Ethnic bigotry is part of the fabric of American and has been since the founding fathers introduce it into psyche of European Americans—not at European Americans, however, practice bigotry, but they cannot ignore the fact of its presence in our everyday lives. For someone of Justice Scalia’s stature and standing, his comments show a lack of either knowledge or understanding of American history his while underscoring an attitude of arrogance expressed through bigotry. America deserves better representation on our highest court in the land than what we have been subjected through the comments and person of Justice Scalia.

The history of bigotry in America is no secret and especially to a Supreme Court Justice, so for him to make comments that smack of ethnic bigotry is disheartening. Certainly many Americans are bigots and do not know it because it they have been conditioned to view it as natural—anyone who does not look like them is different. But, for someone like Justice Scalia whose life’s interest is the law to express biased ethnic sentiments, it should give us great pause for concern about his sense of justice and fairness.

Paul R. Lehman, America as a post-racial society is foolish thinking

September 20, 2014 at 7:09 pm | Posted in Affirmative Action, African American, blacks, Civil Rights Ats, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, employment, equality, European American, fairness, identity, integregation, justice, liberty, Prejudice, President, President Obama, race, segregation, skin color, socioeconomics, U.S. Supreme Court, whites | 3 Comments
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Shortly after President Obama was elected a cry of America being a post-racial society was heard. The thinking was that since America had elected an African American president that all the concerns about race and its negative derivatives had been addressed and was now in the past. The truth of the matter is that America has yet to deal internally with the concept of race other than to continue its illusion. What might be passing for social progress is mostly illusion since not much has changed for the betterment of African Americans relative to employment, education, and incarceration. Certainly, we can point to a number of areas where African American involvement and participation in society have made them more visible, but that visibility usually underscores their ethnicity rather than their being viewed as simply Americans. The stigma of race (ethnicity) always accompanies the African American and the attention, positive or negative, received. In a democratic society the resolution of one problem usually represents the creation of two or more problems. A case in point was school desegregation beginning in 1954. Using a phrase from Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times; it was the worse of times,” when we examine some of the repercussion visited on African Americans as a result of desegregation.
Education in America prior to the Brown decision in 1954 was separate, but certainly, not equal. Education in America can never become equal, because that term pertains to mathematics, not sociology—nothing involving human beings can ever be equal. That term was used to create an illusion of fairness. The idea that African Americans wanted to attend school alongside European American students for social reasons was false; they just wanted an education comparable to that of the European American students. Fortunately, and unfortunately, the only way to ensure that all students receive a fair and comparable education was to discontinue segregated schools. For the African American community, that created numerous problems, two of which involved education and economics.
When the schools were segregated, the African American students were the recipients of information relative to African American history, past and present–information that helped to created a positive self-image as well as one of self-value. The history underscored the many individuals who time and time again triumphed over challenges to achieve some measure of accomplishment. These examples helped the students to develop the courage and desire to accept the many challenges they must face in an ethnically biased society. American history from an African American perspective was not simply an objective look at past events, but a continuing story of the struggles of African Americans to gain fist-classed citizenship in America.
Once the schools were desegregated, many of the former African American teachers were dismissed in favor of European American teachers. Of course, we would be remiss if we did not note that once desegregation became the law, many European Americans who could afford it, moved to suburbs in an action that came to be known as “white flight” because they did not believe in ethnic mixing in any context, but especially at school. As a result of “white flight” the court required bussing of students to achieve desegregation. Since most of the African American schools were physically inferior to those of the European American schools, African American students were bussed to European American schools. These changes, white flight” and “bussing” had a dramatic affect on the African American students.
Once the African American students were bussed to their new schools, they had to adjust to totally new and different environments where they were generally in the minority. Without a doubt, European American students had to make adjustments as well, but they had the benefit of attending their home schools and being taught by familiar teachers. No special considerations were made for the African American students relative to their social adjustment; they were expected to simply “fall in line” along with the majority students. One major difference existed relative to the African American students involved in this desegregation experience; they no longer received or learned African American history. The fact that the majority teachers had no background and little or no knowledge of the African American historical experience, they could not bridge the ignorance gap that could have provided some insight into the problems that created the need for desegregation in the first place. In this case, all students were disadvantaged.
A second negative affect of desegregation to the African American community was the loss of an entrepreneurial class of business men and women. Once the schools became desegregated, many chain-store businesses came into the community and ended much of the “Mom and Pop” businesses that existed in the community because the chain-store business could easily offer goods, services, and products at a lower price. The smaller, African American owned businesses could not compete with the larger ones; so many African Americans who formerly worked at these businesses were displaced. So, the immediate affect of desegregation for the African American community was mixed in that while the African American students would share classrooms with European American students, and thereby receive a comparable education, the African American community would lose many of its entrepreneurial members and businesses and be changed forever.
So, the people who would like to think that America is in a post-racial present might want to reconsider that thought when they examine areas of: education, where we learn that schools today are rapidly becoming more segregated rather than integrated; or consider the wealth gap among ethnic Americans of color compared to European Americans, and the unemployment rate that contributes directly to the standard of living; or to the recent and current news items from Florida, to New York, from Illinois, to California, and places in between where young African American men have been killed by law enforcement agencies; or the fact that many of the previous accomplishments relative to social progress have been eroded, like voting rights, affirmative action, and economic upward mobility in general.
Rather than talking about a post-racial society, America should be looking at the debunking of the illusion of race. One of the primary problems in America today is that too many people do not want to face facts and the reality of those facts—race is and always has been an illusion. The idea of America as a post-racial society is an oxymoron.

Paul R. Lehman, Ferguson, Missouri will represent a positive change in America.

August 19, 2014 at 7:16 pm | Posted in African American, American Dream, American history, blacks, Civil Right's Act 1964, Civil War, Constitutional rights, desegregation, discrimination, Equal Opportunity, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, freedom of speech, justice, liberty, lower class, minority, public education, race, Slavery, socioeconomics, Southern states, state Government, The Oklahoman, upper class | 2 Comments
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We have seen and heard about the treatment of African Americans by the police establishment from the East coast to the West coast and many places in between. Sometimes the question “why does this pattern of aggression by the police against African Americans exist? Whether than trying to answer that question now, we must first take a look at why the attitude and behavior of the police establishment is in question in the first place. Then, we will understand what is going on in our society relative to the African American community and the police today.
When slavery was in its early years in America, race and color were insignificant because the objective was profit. Slavery was always a business and the only value slaves had to their owners was measured in dollars. However, the English brought over to the new world the concept of Africans as a lower order of humans and were not viewed as equal to the Europeans. Most slaves were treated equally bad except with respect to the European (white) slaves. Even as slaves, they were given special treatment as we learn from history:
In 1705, masters were forbidden to ‘whip a Christian white servant naked.’ Nakedness was for brutes, the uncivil, the non-Christian. That same year, all property—horses, cattle, and hogs’—was confiscated from slaves and sold by the church wardens for the benefit of poor whites. By means of such acts, social historian Edmond Morgan argues, the tobacco planters and ruling elite of Virginia raised the legal status of lower-class whites relative to that of Negroes and Indians, whether free, servant, or slave (The Making of the Negro in Early American Literature, p.35).
So, from the very beginning, people of color were discriminated against in favor of Europeans. The term “Christian” was used as pertaining to people from Europe who were considered civilized. The importance of this history is to note the lack of social value or respect given to people of color and especially Africans and African Americans.
When we move ahead one hundred and fifty years to the Civil War period, we find the same attitude and sentiment regarding the lack of social value and respect withheld from the African Americans by the majority society. The need to keep total control of the African Americans after the Civil War by the majority society can be seen in the laws that were created by the various states; those laws were known throughout the South as the Black Codes. These codes further established and endorsed the devaluing of the African American as we see in the reference to the Mississippi Black Code:
The status of the Negro was the focal problem of Reconstruction. Slavery had been abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment, but the white people of the South were determined to keep the Negro in his place, socially, politically, and economically. This was done by means of the notorious “Black Codes,” passed by several of the state legislatures. Northerners regarded these codes as a revival of slavery in disguise. The first such body of statues, and probably the harshest, was passed in Mississippi in November 1865. (http://chnm.gmu.edu/courses/122/recon/code.html)
The perception of respect and social value of the African Americans began to change after the Brown v Topeka Board of Education case in 1954, and continued on through the Civil Rights Acts of 1964-1968. America’s changes were starting to become more inclusive of African Americans regarding Constitutional and Civil Rights, much to the dismay of many did not like or want the changes. Throughout America’s early history the need to recognize and respect the presence and rights of the African American were so low that the phrase “A ‘n’ ain’t worth shit” pretty much summed-up the sense of value society had for the African Americans.
When we look at the relationships the police nation-wide have with communities of color, especially African Americans, we see reflected the same old attitudes and perceptions that have long been a staple of the European American mind-set. Regardless of the visible changes occurring in America today edging more towards an ethnically diverse society, many Americans refuse to accept the change. The police departments generally reflect the attitude of the majority society and therefore, see not a unified community, but two—one European American (white), and those who are not—generally people of color.
What the nation is experiencing in Ferguson, Missouri is not something totally unexpected, but an example of a changing society. As we morn the loss of the many African Americans to the bigotry and biases of the old mind-set expressed through law enforcement agencies, etc…, we can take heart in the fact that they do not die in vain, but in an effort to bring to the fore the problems that must be addressed in society to meet the changes that must take place. Ferguson, as well as the nation, will be a better place for all to live once the problems of representation and cooperation are addressed—problems that would have remained hidden without the tragedy of loss. As a society, we have yet to recognize and debunk the fallacy of race. No problems of equality, fairness, and justice will ever be resolved in America as long as people see themselves as black and white. No such races exist except as part of an illusion.
To underscore the lack of understanding of this problem, we turn to a comment made by Michael Gerson in a recent article, “The paradox of diversity,” where he noted concerning Ferguson, Missouri:
“But events in Ferguson demonstrate the paradox of American diversity: An increasing multicultural nation remains deeply divided by race and class. There are many more friendships and marriages between white and minority Americans (about one in 12 marriages is interracial)—but at the same time racially charged suspicions and anger persists among millions. And a broad perception of our own racial acceptance has created a different form of isolation—a self-satisfaction that obscures or masks deep social divisions. (The Oklahoman, 8/16/2014)
Gerson’s comments represent the problem and the solution in that the nation is divided, but changing to a less racial society. The changes will come as a result of the actions of the people who are adversely affected by the problems that are uncovered when the actions of the society, or a police force, raises their, as well as the rest of society’s consciousness. As a nation, we must continue to tear down the wall of races that separates us unnecessarily. The times are changing, and we cannot stop that.

Paul R. Lehman, George Will and Affirmative Action rejection

April 29, 2014 at 2:30 am | Posted in Affirmative Action, African American, American Indian, blacks, Civil Right's Act 1964, Civil War, college admission, Constitutional rights, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, integregation, justice, Prejudice, President Obama, skin color, Tea Party, The Oklahoman, The Thirteenth Amendment, The U.S. Constitution, University of Michigan, whites | 2 Comments
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Sometimes, when some people do not want to accept facts that contradict their believes, they discard the facts and hold on to the beliefs they created. When they hold on to these beliefs for a long period of time, the beliefs change from myths, Illusions, or fiction to facts to the people who hold on to them. For some people, the concept of race fits that bill. We know that race is not biological, but the created concept of it is real. That concept makes race a powerful social idea that gives some people special access to opportunities and resources. Over the years, our government has given social advantages disproportionately to white (European Americans) people. These advantages affect everyone whether they are aware of them or not.
In first recognizing the results of the social disadvantages heaped upon African Americans and other ethnic Americans, the government has tried to correct the injustices by creating programs that address the problems and work towards alleviating them, the process has been long and challenging. For some people, they pretend that race does not exist at all and so no social problems associated with race exist. Many of these people believe that others in society use race as a way of seeking social justice or advantages over other people. For example, George Will, in his article, “What a tangled web we can weave,” (The Oklahoman, 4/27/14) makes the following claim:
Anodyne euphemisms often indicate an uneasy conscience or a political anxiety. Or both, as when the 1976 Democratic platform chose ‘compensatory opportunity’ as a way of blurring the fact that the party favored racial discrimination in the form of preferences and quotas for certain government-favored minorities in such matters as government hiring, contracting and college admissions.
What Will suggests here is that the Democratic Party decided to address and try to correct some of the injustices American society had placed on the African Americans and other minorities through the program called “Affirmative Action.” Will believes that no person or group of people should receive preferential treatment because to do so would be unconstitutional in that it would have a negative affect on the other people. In the event of any disagreement between contesting parties, the state, not the Federal Government, should get the final word through a vote of the people. Will references a number of decisions from the Supreme Court and comments from a number of Justices concerning the question of preferential treatment based on race. His quote from Justice Harlan underscores Will’s contention:”Our Constitution is colorblind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.
The fact of the matter is that preferential treatment was written into the Constitution—Article 1, Section 2, paragraph 3. The paragraph begins with the following: “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.” So, contrary to the good Justice Harlan’s comments regarding the Constitution, we note that it does imply color and class.
Will seemingly avoids American history that deals directly with the status of African Americans as well as other minorities. His attitude suggests that the Constitution must stand alone as if an idealistic atmosphere where all people have shared the same experiences as Americans with everything being fair and equal. His notion relative to the majority of voters of a state having the final word would have been an injustice to African Americans as well as Indians after the Civil War, not to mention the condition of women. If as Justice Harlan and Will believe that the Constitution is colorblind and respects no social classes why do we have the Amendment XIII and Amendment XIV? America was built on ethnic and class prejudice from the Pilgrims and Puritans to the Dixiecrats and The Tea Party. Anyone who chooses to ignore that fact fails also to acknowledge today’s reality. Regardless of the fact that America created the two so-called races of black and white, and instituted laws that showed preference to the white one, some people still do not want to accept the existence of injustices that are constantly appearing and need addressing.
In his last paragraph, Will states: “The court’s continuing fissures regarding ‘race-sensitive’ policies—six justices used four opinions to reach the result—indicate Harlan’s principle remains too clear for the comfort of a court still too fond of euphemisms. That is shameful.” In reality, for the court to follow Harlan’s principle would be for it to mimic an ostrich by sticking its head in the sand—to avoid the real challenge of ethnic discrimination. One wonders how the treatment of President Obama by some Americans can be interpreted as something other than ethnic bigotry.
For the record, ethnic bias will continue as long a people reject the fact of a human family with no particular group in the family being superior to another, or acknowledge the truth of Americans History that is tied directly to ethnic and class bigotry. In order to correct the problem, we must first admit that a problem exists. Some Americans today still raise the questions of President Obama’s birth place or his ability to lead the country knowing full well that had there been any concerns prior to his first election, they would have been brought forward.
Social progress is being made daily in America by people challenging the negative stereotypes of a society that believed in white superiority and black inferiority. Because of these changes, some people who do not want the changes are fighting against them. They fight in vain because we cannot stop the progress from occurring. Most ethnicities have moved from a color reference to an identity that respects their culture and/or geography. We know that the Constitution is not colorblind or classless, but we continue working in that direction as a society. We will know that progress is being made when people like Will and others stop referring to themselves as white men.

Paul R. Lehman, 50 Years later, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 still needed

April 21, 2014 at 11:24 pm | Posted in Affirmative Action, African American, Bigotry in America, blacks, Congress, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, Equal Opportunity, Ethnicity in America, fairness, liberty, minority, Pledge of Allegiance, politicians, President, segregation, skin color | Leave a comment
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The recent celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (CRA) gives us an opportunity to evaluate a number of concerns relative to that Act, and society in general. Although the process of acquiring the Civil Rights Act was started by President Kennedy, President Lyndon Baines Johnson was the man who championed it through Congress. He paid a large political price for doing so. Nonetheless, we are thankful for his efforts and success. Today, when we look at the Civil Rights Act, we can identify a number of things that are directly related to society then in 1964 and now.
The first thing we realize by the signing of the CRA is that a need was present for such action. After the Civil War, African Americans were literally kept in slavery via a lack of education, jobs, housing, and political representation. Although segregation, discrimination, prejudice, and bigotry were present and visible in everyday life of America, little was being done to recognize the problems. Americans, both African Americans and European Americans tried fighting the injustices on a variety of fronts, but the sentiment of the majority population was against social change. With continued pressure on the Federal Government and the presidents, the civil rights activists over the years since the Civil War were able to acquire an audience with people in power. So, for the first time in American history, Congress and the American people were able to see and accept the fact of injustices visited on African American and other ethnic Americans.
As a result to recognizing the un-American treatment of African Americans and other ethnic Americans, discussions took place relative to how to go about identifying these injustices. With regards to the individual’s rights, safeguards must not be placed in the hands of the states, because a lack of uniformity would exist. So, if efforts were to be made, they must come from the Federal Government. Under the status quo in society up to 1964, segregation was the law and it existed in every aspect of the African American’s life. The sit-ins and marches helped to call attention to the social injustices regarding public accommodations for African Americans. Some success had been achieved in a few areas of education, but the concept of separate but equal was still in effect. So, through the efforts of a number of Civil Rights leaders working directly with President Kennedy and some of his associates, the plan to create a Civil Rights Act that would address some of the injustices experienced by African Americans and other Americans was crafted.
Now that a plan of action was in place, the question was how to get it approved by a Congress that felt no need or urgency to enact a bill that would, in effect, take away some of their power. President Kennedy knew that he would be in for a long and hard fight with certain sections of the Congress in winning approval of this Act, but he was convinced it had to be done. Unfortunately, President Kennedy was killed before he had an opportunity to engage Congress relative to the Civil Rights Act. The task of bringing the CRA successfully through Congress fell to President Johnson. The undertaking for President Johnson would not be an easy one since he was viewed as a Southern politician from Texas and Southern politicians were not very keen on giving equal rights to the sons and daughters of former slaves. For many politicians, the rights and privileges enjoyed by the European Americans and Caucasians were not to be shared equally with African Americans and other ethnic groups. The concern for so-called white supremacy being negatively affected by passage of the CRA troubled many of the political group known as the Dixiecrats. President Johnson was well aware of this group and their concerns because he was consider part of them prior to becoming Vice President. However, Johnson also was aware of the importance of the CRA since its creation acknowledged the existence of injustices as reflected in the status quo, and the label of hypocrisy of America and its claim of democracy.
Nonetheless, Johnson showed political acumen and courage in getting the CRA through Congress. The passage of the CRA represented the success of the efforts of many civil rights activists who labored many years in this regard. With the passage of the CRA, the Federal Government assumed control of the protection of the individual American’s rights. Rather than representing the end of a struggle, the CRA actually was the beginning of a new sense of democracy where all Americans regardless of skin color, religion, gender, and ethnicity could challenge the previously biased conditions. The challenge came from the mindset of many European Americans who felt deceived by the Federal Government who gave the minorities the same rights as they enjoyed. Somehow, they saw this as wrong and an injustice to them as European Americans.
Today, as we look back on fifty years of American life with the CRA, we can recognize how that Act has benefited the society in progressing towards that democracy that gives each citizen the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We can also recognize the struggles that come from making changes in a society based on bigotry. The struggle is still in progress and will be until we educate ourselves and each other of the commitment we made and make as Americans. In essence, what is the responsibility of each and every American? We find the answer in our pledge of allegiance to our country:”I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.”
In this pledge we recognize, accept, and embrace the United States of America as one. We underscore that understanding when we add to the pledge “and to the Republic for which it stands.” The remainder of the pledge states what we stand for as a nation. No where in the pledge is there a reference to a state as an independent entity? As a society, we need to confront those who would like to make American into a nation that caters to their wants based on skin color or ethnicity. The CRA was passed as a measure to confront the injustices of the past and present. As American citizens, we have the responsibility of protecting those rights and privileges. To witness injustice and not call attention to it is the same as accepting it. Ayaan Hirsi Ali stated that “Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.” To that we add that acceptance of intolerance by Americans is hypocrisy

Paul R. Lehman, Civil Rights Act of 1964 still misunderstood by many relative to African Americans

February 6, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Posted in academic qualifications, Affirmative Action, African American, American Racism, Bigotry in America, blacks, college admission, Constitutional rights, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, Equal Opportunity, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, integregation, justice, liberty, minority, Prejudice, public education, segregation, skin color, skin complexion, The U.S. Constitution, whites | Leave a comment
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Today, some fifty years after the Civil Rights Act was signed many Americans still do not know what it was about and some of the results of the signing. From a political and historical perspective, the 1964 signing of the Act by President Lyndon B. Johnson spelled the beginning of the end of the Democratic Party in the South. For African Americans, women, and other American minorities, it represented the beginning of new opportunities for life, liberties and the pursuit of happiness. Many European Americans viewed the Civil Rights Act as the government’s efforts to give special privileges to African Americans. The reason for the Act was due to many ethnic and minority Americans not being able to enjoy the rights and privileges of a first class citizen.
Many European Americans believe that the Civil Rights Acts was written specifically for African Americans because Martin Luther King, Jr.’s name has been associated with it. The truth is that the Act says absolutely nothing about African Americans or any other Ethnic Americans. So, the critics that try to discredit the Act by claiming it is for African Americans are just plain wrong. If one is serious about wanting to find fault with the ’64 Civil Rights Act, they need to take a time out and look at what has happened since the Act was signed.
Women and other minorities were prevented from attending some of the most renowned colleges and universities simply because the colleges had the right to pick and choose who they wanted at their institutions. For proof, all one needs to do is look at the graduation class pictures of any of these schools and count how many women and minorities are included. Then find a picture of a recent graduating class and compare the number of minorities and women. Chances are the results will show a drastic increase of women and minorities in the recent pictures. Why, because the Civil Rights Act made it unlawful for institutions to discriminate against individuals because of their color and/or gender. As a result many women European American as well as African American women have benefited from the new opportunities provided by the Act.
The first paragraph of the Act states that:
To enforce the constitutional right to vote, to confer jurisdiction upon the district courts of the United States to provide injunctive relief against discrimination in public accommodations, to authorize the Attorney General to institute suits to protect constitutional rights in public facilities and public education, to extend the Commission on Civil Rights, to prevent discrimination in federally assisted programs, to establish a Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity, and for other purposes.
If we look at the results that the Civil Rights Acts have had on African Americans, we discover a mixed- bag of experiences. The purpose of the Act was to ensure justice and fairness for all Americans because before the Act, only European American males enjoyed the liberties and privileges afforded the first class citizens. Discrimination against African Americans, women, and other American minorities existed in education, employment, public accommodations as well as some federal programs. Since the passage of the Act many Americans have experienced opportunities to improve their lives, none more than the European American female. So, for someone to say that civil rights is for African Americans is false; all Americans have civil rights, it is just that African Americans, women, and other Americans minorities were never provided with the opportunity to enjoy theirs.

The passage of the ’64 Civil Rights Act did not bring immediate relief to those Americans who had been discriminated against since the beginning of American society. A brief reminder of the past tells us that the American women did not get the vote until 1920; African Americans attended segregated public schools until 1954; and it was not until the 1964 Civil Rights Acts that women began making headway in the medical and legal professions. Again, we are not speaking of African American women, but all American women.

Much of the recent progress of African Americans, women, and other minorities comes as a result of programs like Affirmative Action and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. Many people today take for granted the participation of women in the legal, medical, athletic professions, not to mentions the areas of service like law enforcement, postal workers, fire fighters, construction workers, and a host of others that were closed to women and minorities for many years.

African American and other minority males have benefited from the Civil Rights Act, but not to the extent that women have and still are benefiting. For example, more women attend and graduate from college than men. That is not the say that all Americans are treated fairly because of the Act. That would be false. The fact concerning the Civil Rights Act is that many Americans who never understood it are still against it. Some individuals continue to challenge programs like Affirmative Action because they believe it discriminates against the European Americans in areas like college and university admissions where they believe African Americans are given a preference.

After more than three-hundred-years of segregation, discrimination, and bigotry American society making a smooth transition to a fair and just society would be a miracle. Change takes time because some people who were born into a society where they received privileges and power, come to believe those things came with their birth and skin complexion. These people need to become acquainted with the Constitution under which they live so they will realize that the rights and privileges they presume to have are no longer given to people because of their skin color.

So, the next time someone makes the claim that civil rights are only for African Americans, like some individuals of national repute have done, they should be required to back-up those claims with documented proof. After all, the preamble to the Constitution states that “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United State of America.” Nowhere is there a reference to color, gender, or ethnicity in that statement. All Americans should enjoy their civil rights.

Paul R. Lehman, Dr. King’s persception and the separation suggested in Black Culture

January 20, 2014 at 11:04 pm | Posted in African American, American Dream, Bigotry in America, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, Equal Opportunity, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, I have a dream, Martin Luther King Jr., Prejudice, President Obama, segregation, skin color, whites | 1 Comment
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Today as we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act and Martin Luther King, Jr’s Day, we need to pause and try to put into perspective what Dr. King saw as a priority for America and the African Americans. We can find King’s objective in his words, especially when he deliberately avoids separating African Americans from the rest of America. For example, in his 1963 “I have A Dream” speech when he includes all people as “God’s children, “who must learn how to live together. Too often some people think that because King was an African American that his focus was strictly on and for African Americans. That thought would be false. The most challenging problem King fought against was the separation of the African American people from the rest of society. Unfortunately, the problem of uniting all Americans as one people is still with us, and continues to defy common sense.
One of the ways African Americans are being kept separate from the rest of American society is through the language used by society that seems harmless. For example, the phrase “Black Culture” is frequently used by people of note in the media. But, what does that phrase mean? People use it as though it is a clearly defined aspect of American life restricted to black people. Most people when asked to define “Black Culture” will try to come up with something that reflects the experiences of African Americans in American society. Before too long they discover that the phrase is too vague to define precisely because the term black is too broad a term to restrict to African Americans. If the people who use the term want to focus on African American experiences, then they should not use “Black” as part of an identity because trying to pin-point its specific reference becomes very challenging.
The first thing the phrase “Black Culture” does is separate the black from other colors, thereby creating a situation to make use of contrasts. We all know that culture does not exit in a vacuum, so identifying culture by a color is simply inviting a challenge. For example, if someone were to suggest that music created and recorded by African American artist is black music, then what happens with artist from other ethnic groups record the same music? Does the music change color or as some suggest, race? According to Stevie Wonder, “Music is a world within itself, With a language we all understand, With an equal opportunity, For all to sing, dance and clap their hands.” Society never looked at Elvis Prestly as African American when he recorded the song “Hound Dog” that had been previously recorded by an African American woman, “Big Maybelle.”Nor did society view Pat Boone as an African American when he recorded Little Richard’s song “Trutti Frutti.”The point here is what does one consider culture and can it be created without other cultural influences?
Since Dr. King was concerned with justice and fairness for all, the last thing he would want is a society that would separate the accomplishments of Americans into isolated groups where discrimination could take place. Those accomplishments can and should be part of the society’s story and not restricted to or relegated to a place of less importance. While the phrase “Black Culture” might seem to be specific to African American experiences, those experiences occurred in America and usually were influenced by some aspect of American society. Unfortunately, society does not acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments of non-European Americans as readily as it does European Americans. So, the efforts and contributions of African Americans as well as other groups of color might go unnoticed for some time. For example, how many people could answer the question of who is the most famous astrophysicist in America today? The chances are that not too many would name an African American, Neil deGrasse Tyson, as that person.
To the people who know Tyson, he “is a science rock star whose passion for the laws of nature is matched by his engaging explanations of topics ranging from the mystery of dark matter to the absurdity of zombies” (Parade 1/12/14). The fact that Tyson is an African American is important to American society, not just to African Americans in society. So, we are told that in March, Tyson “will become an even bigger cultural phenomenon as he hosts Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey, a 13-part, prime-time series airing on both Fox and the National Geographic Channel.”What does this information have to do with “Black Culture”? Society has a way of pointing out differences in people and things when those differences constitute only a fraction of what the similarities represent. The information that Tyson will present to his audiences transcends the concepts of race by color. What Tyson plans to do on his show is to “help you ‘understand your relationship to other humans, to the rest of the tree of life on Earth, to the rest of the planets in the universe, and to the rest of the universe itself.” He adds, “I want it to get inside your skin. I want you to be so affected that the world looks completely different.”
To some people, Tyson is just as challenging to accept as President Barack Obama because of the negative stereotypes that have been historically associated with African Americans. King would more than likely be pleased with some of the progress that has been achieved, but sorely disappointed with lack of progress society has made in address the needs of so many other Americans. He would not be in favor or separating the history and accomplishment of African Americans from the American story. As a matter of fact, King underscored the problem of separation in his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize speech when he said that “This is the great new problem of mankind. We have inherited a big house, a great “world house” in which we have to live together – black and white, Easterners and Westerners, Gentiles and Jews, Catholics and Protestants, Moslem and Hindu, a family unduly separated in ideas, culture, and interests who, because we can never again live without each other, must learn, somehow, in this one big world, to live with each other.”
In order for us to understand Kings legacy, we must first understand his sense of mankind’s problem and how we must address it.

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