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We Have No Leaders: African Americans in the Post-Civil Rights Era

By Robert C. Smith; Ronald W. Walters | Go to book overview

PART V

The most magnificent drama in the last thousand years of human history is the transportation of ten million human beings out of the dark beauty of their mother continent into the new found Eldorado of the West. They descended into hell; and in the third century they arose from the dead, in the finest effort to achieve democracy for the working millions which this world had ever seen. It was a tragedy that beggared the Greek; it was an upheaval of humanity like the Reformation and the French revolution. Yet we are blind and led by the blind. We discern in it no part of our labor movement; no part of our industrial triumph; no part of our religious experience. Before the dumb eyes of ten generations of ten million children, it is made mockery of and spit upon; a degradation of the external mother; a sneer at human effort; with aspiration and art deliberately and elaborately distorted. And why? Because in a day when the human mind aspired to a science of human action, a history and psychology of the mighty effort of the mightiest century we fell under the leadership of those who would compromise with truth in the past in order to make peace in the present and guide policy in the future.

W.E.B. DuBois (on post-Reconstruction era American leadership)

With the end of the cycle of civil rights advocacy, only one basic option remained for the black leadership. This was internal organization and consolidation of the minority group within a multiracial, multicultural society. This imperative meant that the traditional black civil rights leadership had reached a societal void lacking a road upon which to lead its constituency. The situation called for a new black consensus that was capable of redefining the plausible place of the black minority within the societal complex in which blacks, as a group, found themselves by 1980. Such a redefinition of the legitimate place of the black minority within the system had to take into full account the meaning of plurality. It meant the systematic reorganization of many areas of black life into first a political bloc, then cultural blocs, and then into whatever internal economic organization are possible within a capitalistic, free market system. In this context an independent black political party becomes the initial step

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