Power and the Black Community: A Reader on Racial Subordination in the United States

By Sethard Fisher | Go to book overview

VI. Black Politics:
South and North

There is no doubt that black protest activities will become Increasingly political. This means that they must lead to an increased national political consciousness and heightened levels of political participation among Negroes. In some areas of the deep South this means organization and action to guarantee the franchise. Elsewhere it may mean the intensification of voter registration efforts, the preparation of black political candidates, the development of white alliances, or any or all of these efforts. The relevance of this development in the black community is perhaps best revealed by the chronic efforts by white racists on local levels to resist it through various techniques of intimidation and violence, and through various legislative and administrative maneuvers. The most outstanding of these tactics of political repression, short of total disfranchisement, has been the development of the white primary. This development, now illegal by Supreme Court mandate, for a long time effectively prevented the development of local political strength by blacks. Gerrymandering and the strategic deployment of scarce resources by whites among blacks have also been used for the same purpose.

The destruction of resistance to full political participation by black Americans will mean their widespread participation on state and national bodies of major political groups, as well as substantial participation in the realm of "new politics." Significant black involvement across the political spectrum will give greater leverage to the movement for black equality. Such involvement, in conjunction with allied white groups, will give an urgency to black demands for equality. This will mean that the political process can neglect the black community and its interests only at the risk of introducing fundamental change in that process itself. For should conventional politics close ranks on blacks, alliances in the interest of basic change would be readily possible. An important requirement for adoption of this strategy is sufficient awareness of the relevance of politics, and sufficient skill in political action among blacks to make possible this degree of internal flexibility.

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