I offer this series not as condemnation or criticism of any group, but merely as evidence that injustice is, as justice should be, colorblind.
One would have to be from outer space or totally brainwashed by a liberal left-leaning learning institution, and/or media, to believe that America has not come a long way in the past centuries. There are few countries – democracies or otherwise – that can compare to the progress made by the U.S. in the last 100 years.
Beside the long list of people waiting to legally enter the U.S., tens of thousands are illegally entering and thousands of others are seeking options. Why? America offers the greatest number of opportunities for success of any country in the world, especially in the Western hemisphere. While this is true, is it the promised land for everyone?
Most people are familiar with the initials KKK. They stand for Ku Klux Klan, an organization founded in the middle 1800s by a former Confederate general, Nathan Bedford Forrest. The Klan’s oft-stated goal was to keep all blacks “in their place.” They systematically murdered black politicians and political leaders, lynched black teachers and ministers, burned black churches, and drove black landowners off their lands, murdering any who refused to leave.
However, consider another historical fact of which I was completely unaware. According to Tuskegee Institute, between the years 1882 and 1951, of the 4,730 people lynched by the KKK here in the U.S., 1,293 were white.
You read that right: Almost 30 percent of their victims were whites. The KKK was an equal-opportunity lynch mob, and politicians at almost every level of government (city, state and even members of the U.S. Congress) were members of, or owed allegiance to, the Klan.
Now 1964 is traditionally viewed as a watershed year for black civil liberties. Consider: “Be it enacted, that all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of inns, public conveyances on land or water, and other places of public amusement; subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law, and applicable alike to citizens of every race and color, regardless of any previous condition of servitude.”
If some of the language, like “inns,” “public conveyances” and “previous condition of servitude,” seems a bit archaic, it’s because, judged by today’s standards, they are. You see, that is not a quote from the 1964 Civil Rights Act, but from the Civil Rights Act of 1875. Yes, you read that right – that bill granting equal rights to blacks was passed by Congress in 1875!
But that was not the shocking part for me; that was coming up.
In addition to the aforementioned Civil Rights Act, Congress passed the following pieces of legislation:
1866: 13th Amendment abolished slavery
1866: Civil Rights Act
1868: 14th Amendment granted citizenship to blacks
1870: Civil Rights Act
1870: 15th Amendment granted voting rights to black men
1871: Civil Rights Act
When the Civil War ended, blacks were freed; slavery was abolished; blacks were granted citizenship and civil rights; blacks were given the right to vote, followed by another Civil Rights Act. In light of the forgoing information, it seems like we had, indeed, made it to “the promised land.”
But wait, if we reached the “promised land” back in the 1800s, why did I, as a black man serving in the U.S. Air Force, have to wait until 1964 to get my civil rights and until 1965 to vote? Who was responsible for the delay? Where was the president? Where was Congress? Where was the Supreme Court?
The answers to these questions were what shocked me.