As another Black History month comes to an end, there are some facts that must be shared, and some misconceptions cleared up.
SEGREGATION VS. INTEGRATION
I find it a little disconcerting when I hear young black folk saying integration is the worst thing that could have happened to our community. But they can only think that because they have not lived through slavery, segregation or Jim Crow.
They believe that the Democratic Party is and always has been the party for us and the Republican Party is the party of racists and white supremacists. That’s because they have never lived in a time when the Democratic Party was open about their disdain for us. I have.
Democrats have rewritten history because after the Civil Rights Movement brought segregation to an end, they needed another way to control us and remain in power.
I grew up during segregation and watched racist white folks in Alabama (all Democrats) do everything in their power to “keep us in line.” I had to ride in the back of the bus; drink from separate water fountains; stand at the back of a restaurant and take my food to go.
The Ku Klux Klan (KKK), created by the Democratic Party, reigned fear in our hearts with burning crosses, burned out churches and lynching ropes swinging innocent black men in the wind as a reminder that we were never safe from their evil, racist hands.
I remember coming back home from a Christian Mothers’ Catholic Conference in Albany, Georgia. Our priest was driving and stopped at a gas station for gas. I had to go to the bathroom, so I passed by the Women’s and Men’s bathrooms to go to the one marked Colored.
Since it was filthy and had no door, I decided to go back to the Women’s bathroom.
But before I could even use it, a scraggly old white man opened the door and dragged me out, swearing and cursing at me. The only other place I could go was on the side of the road and our priest was too afraid to stop the car again. So, I had to wait in agony for another hour or so until I got home. I was 7 months pregnant at the time.
That’s the kind of thing that happened during segregation.
We couldn’t even mingle with white folks, unless it was in a subservient role. So, those who say integration was the worst thing that could have happened to us – don’t have a clue.
A SEAT AT THE TABLE
I hear people complain and demand “a seat at the table.” Well, I’ve had a seat at the table since the early ‘70s and discovered you cannot expect people to respect you and be nice to you when all you do is curse and disrespect them. You also must be willing to give of yourself and your time without compensation.
I learned as a volunteer, I got to sit and make policy with the heads of government, non-profits and corporations. And as such, I was invited to participate in various committees, task forces and governing boards. Those white folks in power learned to have respect for me. Yet some of my own community accepted the role of the KKK and tried to “keep me in line”, saying “Barbara Howard not only likes white folks, she even eats with them.”
I remember a piece in the local Miami black newspaper, The Miami Times, that read “Barbara Howard is so close to the LBA (Latin Builders Association) that she seems to have been adopted by them. She breaks her neck to do what they want.” They didn’t realize that there is a “quid pro quo” relationship in power brokering. And I had a seat at the table.
And because I have had a seat at the table for almost 50 years, I’ve learned a lot. One of my black attorney friends said I always had a “different perspective.” Of course, I did. I wasn’t controlled by the Democratic Party, so my political philosophy was different. Even though I was a registered Democrat, I could think for myself. My mind wasn’t controlled by the outright lies and half-truths told by Liberal politicians and the media.