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Beyond the Rhetoric

’BLEXIT’: Returning to our roots?

Harry C. Alford & Kay DeBow ow contributors | 11/8/2018, 3 p.m.

We had it right the first time. After hundreds of years of brutal and inhumane slavery, Blacks decided to rise up and fight for their freedom. It didn’t take many; just a few who were pure at heart. By the mid-19th Century, a leader arose. His name was Frederick Douglass. Born a slave he defied the system and whipped his white master’s ass and walked off the plantation forever. This was not enough for the natural born leader. He helped create an abolitionist movement designed to rid our nation of enslaving African Americans.

It was through these efforts that a great movement was forming. Evolving from the abolitionist movement a new political party was formed after a major conference in Ripon, Wis. Mr. Douglass was a major principal in this movement which would be called the Republican Party. The party grew with the abolishment of slavery being a large part of its platform. The resolve he had when he walked off that plantation never faded. In one of his most remarkable speeches he admonished any “half-steppers” and encouraged his members to stay strong:

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will…Men may not get all they pay for in this world; but they must certainly pay for all they get.”

The successful ending of the Civil War was greatly aided by leaders such as Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln and others of the same ilk. America was soon blessed with a worthy disciple of the Frederick Douglass mantra. It would not be long when the wisdom and teachings of Booker T. Washington would be known to all – especially southern Blacks. Education and entrepreneurship are the keys to Black success. He would stress that if we formed our own businesses and simply did business with each other, not only would Blacks survive; they would soon thrive.

Mr. Washington would become one of the greatest leaders and spokesperson for African Americans. Like Frederick Douglass, he too would be summoned by American presidents for advice. In 1900, he founded the National Negro Business League which was a “Chamber of Black Business owners” ten years before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was formed.

Black conservatism and pro-business carried us through many tough times. From Abraham Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt, Black conservatives prospered and were considered “the enemy” by Democratic racists such as President Woodrow Wilson. The Ku Klux Klan prospered during this era especially in the Deep South and Midwest.

There would soon be another tactic to check Black conservatism. A liberal movement was formed in upstate New York known as the Niagara Movement. They propped up a Negro spokesman to rival the teachings of Booker T. Washington. W.E.B. Dubois would start the NAACP to teach democratic principles to Blacks and oppose what Frederick Douglas and Booker T. Washington stood for.