Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Friday, July 08, 2005  

Back in the day

Two days before the oldest and best-known U.S. civil rights group holds its yearly convention in Milwaukee, black leaders in the city say their community is being torn apart from the inside.

Civil rights leaders like 57-year-old Prentice McKinney, who fought to free Milwaukee's blacks from the ghetto, say gangs, drugs and violence have left those who still live in the nation's urban cores in fear of the next generation.

I knew Prentice in Milwaukee.

The struggles over segregated schools and housing in Milwaukee began in 1963, when marches and civil disobedience were organized by Roman Catholic priest James Groppi.

Marchers who crossed an invisible line were met by mobs of angry whites. Three people died in the summer of 1967, 100 were injured and 1,700 arrested. Groppi and the NAACP Youth Council later began 200 consecutive days of marches aimed at breaking down the laws that forced blacks to live in ghettos.

I also knew Fr. Groppi and was a member of the Youth Council and participated in those marches. I was 15 at the time. I was arrested on two different occasions. Once for violating curfew, I believe although the police didn't really say; and the second time I was assigned as a monitor for one of our marches and the police came up and simply grabbed me for no reason at all. I pulled my arm free and ran, but they followed after me in a squad car and caught me. Again, they never said as far as I know what I did that warranted arrest.

The marches on the southside of Milwaukee were quite dangerous. The streets were lined with whites with their wives and kids screaming epithets and occasionally tossing rocks and bottles. But after our first couple of marches, they stopped caring.

When I think back on it, the marches seemed dumb. They were meant to rile people up over an issue that was academic. The black folks had no intention of moving to the Southside to live since it was hostile, but also, it was simply too white. Even with fair housing laws in place, blacks haven't moved into the Southside in over 30 years.

The whole point was to show how racist whites are.

In those days I spent all my free time in the ghetto at the Freedom House, our headquarters, learning to talk black, dance black, and identifying with blacks. People knew me and I felt quite safe there. It was a wonderful experience. I fell in love with all things black, the culture, the people, the community, but it all changed in a few years with the advent of Black Power; now, of course, the ghetto is a proving ground of utter depravity in the midst of every opportunity for improvement black leaders once dreamed of.

Thank you LBJ, your Great Society and War on Poverty, the Democratic Welfare Machine, the soft on crime initiatives which hurt the black community more than anyone, and a succession of black leaders who cried racism for every ill among their folks.

Thanks for taking a people who were once kind, decent, well mannered, determined, and self-reliant and turning a large portion of them into ignorant, rude, racist, vicious, and self-loathing people.

Don't you just love liberalism?

posted by Mark Butterworth | 9:49 AM |