So much of history has been whitewashed for the sake of making it palatable for white consumption that we are starting to perpetuate things that are not only misconceptions, but outright lies.
A lot of what you're told about protests, MLK, etc. is wrong.
I drove past a protest on the lawn of a local police department on Saturday and later saw a news report that described it as "peaceful" and "non-violent" and said MLK would be proud.
Not really, tho.
That wasn't really MLK's thing.
I get it. No one mentions MLK without mentioning his stance on nonviolence. But that's not really how MLK worked.
MLK used TWO phrases to describe his work more than any other:
1. "Direct action."
2. "Civil Disobedience."
Contrary to what you've been told. MLK wasn't about marching and protesting to bring awareness to a cause. Every move he made was a calculated strategic move towards a DIRECT GOAL.
Sorry, guys. MLK wasn't about going to protest in a designated area and playing by the rules. His goal was to make people uncomfortable and cause chaos. He ADVOCATED breaking the law.
It's almost like no one ever read the Letter from a Birmingham Jail where he said all of this:
He didn't want it to be violent but he wanted to be contentious. They wanted a confrontation. It was part of the plan. John Lewis still calls it "good trouble." You can't have civil disobedience without DISOBEDIENCE
For example: The Montgomery Bus boycott was an effort to impose an economic sanction on the bus company. The state strictly forbade them from organizing boycotts but they did it anyway.
It was a DIRECT ACTION against the rule, not a symbolic gesture.
The black people in Montgomery PAID for the buses that dehumanized them. It wasn't a demonstration for demonstration's sake.
AND it was only PART of a strategy that included NAACP attorney Fred Gray filing the lawsuit Browder v. Gayle to stop segregation on city buses.
AND, despite what you were taught, the Montgomery Bus Boycott didn't end segregation on Montgomery city buses, it was the COURT CASE that changed the city buses...
See, the untold story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott is that it didn't stop segregation on Montgomery buses
Two days after the boycott ended, a white supremacist fired a shotgun at MLK. The next day, on Christmas Eve, a black girl was attacked for riding a bus. 4 days after that, racists attacked 2 buses and shot a pregnant woman. 2 weeks later, the Klan started bombing black churches.
So what happened?
Well, the city stopped bus services. And when it resumed, guess what happened?
Rosa parks had to leave the city.
And black people started sitting on the back of the buses just to be safe. Black people didn't really sit anywhere on city buses until the 70s
What did you learn about Selma to Montgomery March on Bloody Sunday?
That black people in Ala. tried to march for voting rights but Alabama state troopers attacked. Then they marched again, and congress passed the VOting Rights Act.
But that's not really what happened.
The Selma to Montgomery march wasn't a symbolic demonstration. It wasn't even an original idea.
See, black ppl all over Ala. were attacked when they tried to register to vote. So local organizers would get large groups of people to march to their respective courthouses.
That's how those marches started.
They weren't protesting. They were GOING TO REGISTER. And they figured: "If we're in a group, they can't beat us all."
But y'all know white people. They will definitely try their best. I think they call it "American exceptionalism."
They were headed to Montgomery to confront the governor in person and demand their right to vote when Bloody Sunday happened.
But here's the part about the Selma to Montgomery marches most people are never told:
It was NOT nonviolent.
See, after Bloody Sunday, MLK came down to organize a second march. But the SAME state troopers still planned to open a can of whip-ass.
So what did MLK do?
He turned the whole march around.
That's where James Forman came in.
James Forman is one of the civil rights leaders you don't hear about because he wasn't with that "getting-his-skull-cracked" shit. Plus he never wore a civil rights suit
He wore overalls.
Forman often disagreed with MLK because he figured:
"You don't even go here!"
Why be nonviolent in the face of violence? Plus, he thought MLK was a figurehead who didn't understand what people on the ground knew:
They were never gonna get their voting rights unless they fought back.
So Forman's peeps, along with some students from Tuskegee who weren't about that fuckshit said "fuck this. We're getting across that bridge."
So on the THIRD march, Forman and his folks had bricks, sticks and dress cans of whip-ass for the cops.
They made it across.
MANY of the politicians who voted for the Voting Rights Act said THIS was the thing that made them vote for it — the fact that we were fighting back.
It wasn't nonviolence It was, in part the prospect of violence that passed the VRA
Now, Forman was friends with Robert F. WIlliams, who is in my top 5 Civil Rights heroes of all time. Simply put, Robert F WIlliams was a bad motherfucker.
But before I begin, I wanna tell you about one of the craziest stories in the entire civil rights movement
In 1958, a 7-year-old white girl named Sissy Marcus told her parents that she had kissed 2 black boys on their cheeks.
Her parents told the police.
The police arrested the boys for rape.
They were 7 & 9 years old.
This happened in Monroe, NC, which had one of the largest chapters of the KKK in the country. in a town of 12,000, the chapter had a reported 7,500 members.
The town also had a large NAACP chapter. And the reason why, was important.
Robert F. WIlliams had served in the marines. When he returned from WWII, he was joined the NAACP but they barely had any members because the people were afraid of the Klan.
So Robert F Williams decided to do something about it.
He built an army.
He organized 50 -60 black men and created the "Black Armed Guard. "
We often talk about the Deacons for Defense and the Panthers but the Black Armed Guard was perhaps the most influential of these groups.
In 1957, the KKK decided to attack the NAACP vice president, who was also the town's only black physician. They went to the house to do a drive-by and saw it was surrounded with sandbags to stop the gunfire. But the Klansmen fired anyway.
But it wasn't just sandbags.
The Black Armed Guard was waiting behind the sandbags and opened fire on the KKK.
Not only did the Klan never fuck with the NAACP in Monroe again, but the city passed an ordinance that required the Klan to get a permit every time they wanted to meet.
So when the boys were arrested in the Kissing Case, RObert F Williams got the whole world involved. Police beat the boys for a week until they confessed. A judge sentenced the boys to imprisonment until they were adults.
But Williams got the whole world involved and the Black Armed Guard protected the boys parents. They literally had shootouts with the Klan. The parents of the kids said they had. to "sweep mounds of bullets off their porches."
Eleanor Roosevelt spoke out. So did leaders across the world. After a year, the boys were pardoned by the governor because no judge would overturn the sentence.
The city and the state have still never apologized.
But this is what made Monroe, NC one of the hubs of the civil rights movement. It became the home base for the Freedom Rides because the KKK knew not to fuck with the Black Armed Guard. In fact, the whole black section of Monroe basically just stopped letting white people enter
Then one night, in 1961 a white couple got lost in the black part of town in Monroe. Robert told them to stay at his house because he didn't want them to run into anyone who mistook them for Klansmen.
The couple were grateful
But the KKK police & Hoover's FBI convinced the couple to say Williams had kidnapped them. The FBI put out a warrant. But people across the US helped him escape to Cuba
He wrote the book "Negroes With Guns" that influenced the Panthers.
When he returned in '69, NC dropped all charges after activists rallied support.
Williams died in 1996.
There were a lot of people who eulogized him at his funeral. And a lot of info came out.
It turns out, Williams was in Selma at that third bridge crossing with his homeboy James Forman.
He had protected the Freedom RIders
He had protected the Kissing Case Boys.
ANd there was a woman from Ala. who said that he was the one who made her feel safe.
Now this woman was a lifelong activist but she was mostly a radical. She was raised in the Marcus Garvey movement. She always fought for her people and was known as not being scared of shit.
But at the funeral, she said she might not have been able to do what she did if Robert Williams, her lifelong friend hadn't always promised that no one would ever hurt her.
And he lived up to her promise.
ANd that's why she was able to be brave.
Her name was Rosa Parks
(Sorry, had to do some stuff...) But if you want to know why we are taught this whitewashed way of history, it is not just about making white people comfortable. It's about...
You know what?
There's probably someone who can explain int better than me.
Like Robert F Williams