We must listen to the ancestral warriors by A. Peter Bailey
1/17/2020, 6 a.m.
As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, it will be to our advantage to pay much closer attention to serious guidelines from some of our most brilliant and committed ancestral warriors.
They include the following:
Lerone Bennett Jr.: “The black middle class can no longer avoid its destiny. The black middle class can no longer avoid the necessity of redefining itself in terms of the needs of black people. It is necessary now for the black middle class to become the servant of the black com- munity and not the mediator of the white community ... It is equally important for the black community to judge individuals on the basis of their contributions. Some men can write, some can fix cars, some can cook, some can raise hell. All — the writer, the mechanic, the cook, the hell raiser — are all valuable because their skills are complementary and not contradictory.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “This plea for unity is not a call for uniformity. There must always be healthy debate. There will be inevitable differences of opinion ... But Negroes can differ and still unite around common goals ... This form of group unity can do infinitely more to liberate us than any action of individuals (italics his). We have been oppressed as a group and we must overcome that oppression as a group.”
Dr. Carter G. Woodson: “... The race needs workers, not leaders. Such workers will solve the problems which race leaders talk about and raise money to enable them to talk more and more about. When you hear a man talking, then, always inquire as to what he is doing or what he has done for humanity ... It may be well to repeat here the saying that old men talk of what they have done, young men of what they are doing and fools of what they expect to do. Our race has had a rather large share of the last mentioned class.”
Brother Malcolm X: “Basically there are two kinds of power that count in America — economic and political, with social power deriving from the two. In order for the Afro-Americans to control their destiny, they must be able to control and affect the deci- sions that control their destiny — economic, political, social. This can only be done through organization. The Organization of Afro-American Unity will organize the Afro-American community block by block to make the community aware of its power and potential. We will start immediately a voter registration drive to make every unregistered voter in the Afro-American community an independent voter; we propose to support and/or organize political clubs to run independent candidates for office and to support any Afro-American already in office who answers to and is responsible to the Afro- American community ...”
The question is whether we are intelligent enough as a group of people to follow the guidelines of our ancestral warriors.
The writer is an author and journalist based in Washington.