April 14, 2010
NRAAC's National Chair
Dr. Jean Howard-Hill
National Republican African American Caucus [NRAAC] Blog
The National Republican African American Caucus Has It’s
Say!: An 18 Day Political Revival
Day 2 Con’t: Continuation of the Birthright
In the black Protestant church, we have this thing about revivals. They are taken really seriously. It is like calling an emergency code blue for spiritual cardiac arrest! As preachers and pastors, we always begin a revival with a set number of days. But we allow for what we call the “leading of the Spirit”. We say, “If the Spirit leads, then we will go five nights (or whatever the number may be). But if the Spirit says so, we will hold it over until the Spirit finishes with what It wants to do here.”
The birthright is something which warrants safe guarding. As I said in the last post, something and someone are always present to try to steal, take by default, control, block, deny or squander it. Therefore we must be diligent in our watch and in preserving it, as well as make sure we pass it down to the next generation. This is something that as a race and as a political party, we have not done politically.
Neither African Americans nor true Republicans have done such a great job with this.
For African Americans, what we birthed in slavery, during the Civil Rights Era and within the Republican Party as forefathers and foremothers, we have not passed down and continued the legacy.
During slavery, we were a strong people who endured the seas during the journey from the Motherland of Africa under conditions that no one should have been able to survive. We withstood as much as humanly possible the fetters placed upon us, as we were bound with shackles. When our hearts were broken as we birthed children only to see them ripped from the arms of their mothers while they were still sucking from their breasts, we survived the wounds of the heart. When the strength of proud African blood that ran through the veins of our men was spilled from unmerciful beatings and they were relegated to being treated like animals and had to serve and bow down at the feet of even the most inferior of white men, they somehow kept their manhood. When our women and even young girls were raped and used to breed mulatto children for our white masters, we still labored and gave birth to our offspring with love. When our women and children were made to labor long and hard and come up wanting – with nothing of our own possession to show for it, we made it through yet another day. We survived all of this to then after becoming freedmen, to be faced with the Jim Crow laws of the Civil Rights Era, which segregated, humiliated, tortured, lynched, castrated, bombed and killed us without impunity or godly conscience.
On a brighter side, we stood as proud Americans during that brief moment during Reconstruction when we joined with the Republican Party as they stood with us as allies and gave birth to the first elected black men to Congress and to state legislators even within the South. That was indeed a benchmark in history. But as we moved further in history, something happened to change all of that and to reverse the birthright.
A switched identity took place around the mid 1960s, as Dixiecrats invaded the GOP. But what we did was, instead of fighting and standing as a racial block to overcome them, we made an exodus! Some say, the racial tension of that era facilitated this move. Fire hoses used to wash the bodies of children and even the elderly down streets and into gutters; vicious dogs trained to maul and rip black flesh turned loose on protestors for freedom; the lack of sanctity for even the house of worship to the point of bombing it while church services took place – even killing innocent little girls; national guards having to be called out of which some were just as racist and filled with hate as those they were sent to protect us against their attacks; little children being carted off to jail like lambs for the slaughter; little to no protection under or by the law to stop the violence against those who stood and even knelt praying, showing great restraint in not retaliating with returned violence. But when we look at the perpetrators, it was not the Republican leadership, but rather the Democratic George Wallace(s) and the likes of the South! Yet because we were favored for a moment with the passage of key Civil Rights laws of 1964 and 1965, we left the birthright of a party which facilitated the Emancipation Proclamation. When we did that, we opened the door for what we see today – White Republican racists and bigots who have found within the Republican Party the comfort of its political covering!
There also is fault that must be laid at the feet of the Republican Party as well. While that transition was taking place, it lost an opportunity to close the gates and to prevent and even reverse the exodus. Had they protected the Republican birthright from being swallowed up by those it once opposed, they would not have found any levels of party comfort which would have warranted them staying. They failed and did neither. This is something that forever will be a puzzling decision and defining moment within America’s history. But I contend that while we were being chased by the darkness that came forth from the enemy of white racists, instead of fleeing, we should have stood our ground, used the leverage of our voting strength, and caused them instead to flee back into the party from which they were birthed!In all fairness to the Democratic Party, this in no way suggests that the present Democratic Party is racist. But what it does point out is that it was the party which gave birth to the demons of racism and it too has to cleanse its political lineage to remove the legacy of its birth. In many ways that has happened. It must be pointed out that to have taken the courage to pass civil rights legislation was indeed honorable and was a giant step towards doing that. Yet, what came with that also was the implanting of a new seed of bondage which when we switched political partners and began to intercourse with the Democratic Party, we had no idea from that relationship, we would become impregnated with a yoke of bondage that allowed us to depend more upon the government of man for protection, rather than our will to survive and determination to overcome under the divine guidance of the God who brought us up out of the Egypts of the South!Instead of seizing that moment, as a moment, and moving swiftly to use Affirmative Action and the reliefs that were afforded us through the Democratic Party, we allowed them to become a permanent fix, to a temporary situation. Never would the God who freed us, intend that we go from one form of bondage to another. We were not meant to flee Egypt and then to fall victims to the sword within the wilderness.
Affirmative Action had its benefits, which many of us were recipients. It was good for a time and a season. It was just and it was necessary in order to call back the times and make right that which was wrong. But when it caused us to rely upon it as a crutch and to lure us into a false sense of permanency, it took away from us the zeal and the will to fight and to take our freedom to the next level!
Now in 2010, we find ourselves no further along the path of racial equality or economic recovery than we were in the 1960s, and I dare say we have gone backwards, rather than forward. We lost something which was within the essence of our souls! The will to take pride in being Black and to shake off any notions of being inferior! The determination to get the white man’s education; to work hard and own what the white man owned and had denied ownership to us; the state of mind which was convinced us that we were just as good, just as smart and just as capable as any other white person to govern, learn, and to build wealth. The belief that all are created equal by God.
The birthright that we once held which built and encouraged black business ownership, the aspiration to become lawyers, doctors, teachers, professionals and respectful people of the community who built upon success and accomplishments, letting nothing stop or hinder us, in many ways was lost. Today we see but a flicker of it in the eyes of our youth. But a flicker is not enough when we buttress that with black-on-black crime; the high percentage of African American males in prison or being killed; the gang violence; babies having babies and unemployment rates through the ceiling! When I see all of this as a political activist and leader, an educator and as a woman of God, something inside of me wretches with pain and causes me to weep and to bitterly mourn for the birthright which once was given to the descendants of slaves!
We have failed! We have failed to pass that birthright down with proper instructions on how to keep and preserve it; how to be like Jabez in the midst of hardship and even continuous racist environments enlarge our tents and our territory; how to uplift each other and stand as a race of proud Americans who built the South with the sweat, tears and power of our labor under the most inhumane circumstances.
But where I weep the most is that unfortunately the black preacher has also failed in taking on the responsibility of the mantle and the role they were given going back to slavery and even now, to deliver a timely message liken to that which was spoken to the Jewish people. Never forget your history and how you got over! Erect memorials to remind you of your deliverance! Mark the paths you have taken and become valley guides to those who must travel those same paths! Teach the laws by which you were governed which when you obeyed them, they caused the grace and favor of God to be upon your life! Take it to heart and pass it on to the next generation. Build houses and plant vineyards to establish ownership and to ensure your stability! Build storehouses to gather the harvest so that nothing is wasted! But leave a portion for those who do not have, to charitably gleam. Take the talents given to you, invest them well and multiply them! Protect your investments! Build a fortified wall around your house and your family to keep them and your possessions safe. Pass down an inheritance to your children! Tell the story of your history to your children, and to their children’s children, so that it is never forgotten and is passed down from one generation to the next one …And above all never forget the God who brought you over!
As men and women of the clergy, if we dare be honest with ourselves, we must admit that we have failed! We have not stood as we should have on the wall and watched for those whose birthright was coveted. Nor have we admonished those who have given it up freely or have taught how not to squander it. We have not been the good shepherds of the sheep entrusted to our care and have not preached or taught them about their birthrights. Therefore, many do not realize even that they have one, and because of that they have become non-Americans – a people without a country, who see this land of promise more like a foreign land, in which they have been relegated to stay at the bottom of the pile, rather than rise to the top. For many the view from the mountain is something they cannot fathom, because all they have known is a message about the valleys. While both messages balance off the other, one standing alone – especially if it is the valley message, has caused a mentality of underachievement and despair.
But I hear the Spirit of revival rising up, first among us to revive the birthright. For when we do this, we will go seeking to find it and to have it returned to us. Whether it is political, economic, educational or even spiritual, once the flames of birthright revival are ignited, we will not settle for the valleys of America, but will not be content until we reach the mountains. We also no longer will see ourselves as the tail, but also as the head, taking our place among those in political leadership.
We the people of Spirit and faith already have begun the revival which reclaims our birthright within the Republican Party. This is why we now move forth, to carry this message across America and into every household, neighborhood, city and state until it sparks a revival of the heart, mind, spirit and soul of every African American who has not heard it or who knows and has not yet reclaimed it. It is not until this is done that true freedom, liberty and justice will ring! It is not until then that those who allowed it to be stolen or have squandered it will arise to retake and reclaim it; and those who have taken by default, controlled, blocked, or denied it, will be forced to let it go!
Amen again, and again!To reach the NRAAC national chair:
423-702-5622 NRAAC office
She has taught full time and as an adjunct, American Government, State and Local Government, and International Politics and Culture of Nonwestern Countries at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, and was voted 2006 Outstanding Professor of the year. Additionally, from 1976 to 1979, she designed and directed the "Democracy In Action" Program, which was a civics program taught in the local school systems. Howard-Hill also is a local political commentator and holds a law degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville College of Law. She also is ordained clergy and heads The Healing Place Ministries International, overseeing 47 ministries throughout Africa.
She also is a TN third district congressional candidate. If elected, she would be the first African American Republican and female to be elected from the third district. Her campaign website can be found at: http://ladyjforcongress.com and http://jeanhowardhillforcongress.com; http://jeanhowardhillcampaignnews.blogspot.com; http://blogwithladyjforcongress.blogspot.com; http://jeanhowardhillforcongress.ning.com; http://www.youtube.com/JHHCongress; http://twitter.com/ JHHCongress.]
More information on the NRAACcan be found at:
http://theblackolivebranch.blogspot.com [NRAAC National Chair's Blog]. Each State Caucus can be accessed by state. See related links at http://www.nraacaucus.org/index_files/Page816.htm. Also can be found on the RNC group page at http://our.gop.com/Groups/National_Republican_African-American_Caucus_NRAAC.