You’ve probably heard this but we’re not going to pretend it’s new. This is Southern experience that first caught people’s attention. It applies to every field of social politics from the civil rights movement to the modern tea party movement to the alt right.
This piece was inspired by an article I wrote for American Spectator the other day: That step Back in the North. And I wrote about it in depth.For years I have been influenced by the oral history of Southern organizations, especially slavery abolitionists, black and white. I got a kick out of putting the voices of these fascinating individuals in pop culture with hip hop, rap, and gospel music. So I thought it would be a great idea to include this specific aspect of freedom history in the MLK “Civil War Political Movement Reawakening.”
The one surprise? As soon as I started talking about the movement and its current condition, people were instantly whipped into action. They took to social media, the streets, using the movement’s recently invented badge with the familiar Civil War sign. This raised the hopes of many, especially former slaves who lived through the struggles of segregation but who still desperately yearn for an American union not belonging to the Jim Crow fringes of the fringes of the East. They are demanding some way to bring about the economic, social, and political liberation they so desire.
The story is not told and it’s not as whole as I would have liked, but it is worth reading. It shows that civil rights and working people are not only fated to fight for justice.
Why not? because we don’t like cities, the current economic system, or anything that correlates with racism and segregation. It’s just not our style, this “politics of tolerance” that has created the conditions for division in our country for a long time.
Looking at America through this lens allows us to see the social tensions between a union white elite with an arm in the South, the countryside that is up north, and the extended American middle class that is in the southeast. We may not have heard about it, but those who were forced to move to the Northeast or move north often lived in a culture that tolerated the environment that produced the racism and segregation their ancestors experienced in the south.
The clash between south and north was there before MLK, but MLK said we need to change it. In his famous anti-Slavery speech, he talked about how the white west understood the Southern south’s racism and segregation even when they disagreed with it. From that moment forward he sought to institute something that needed to be done.
Early in his life he learned that his childhood friends did not share his opinion about slavery. Though they would scoff at him in their Midwest towns, his parents made sure he got to know them and learn how they lived.
Starting from a very young age he could not understand or accept that racists had power in the South.
Working his way up from jobs hard at work to becoming a supervisory principal at an old [old](here’s your Irish reason when you move around), a top ten high school principal, and before long being appointed as U.S. Marshal for the District of Columbia at the age of 19, he traveled to the south in a car and formed an alliance with an African American to try to reform schools.
Life was tough then for black people in the South but he made it his goal to try to change it. He remembered the good times when black people were peaceful and work hard.
After realizing the need to get out of the (South) altogether, he began to advocate for rights and working groups to do the fighting for civil rights. He became a leader in Black Lives Matter.
Today in many ways he is “rooted in America” but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been made into a national hero.
Follow @JeffNorcia on Twitter for perspectives from the South.