By A. Peter Bailey –TheNorthStarNewsToday
(TriceEdneyWire.com) — Black folks in the United States are in dire need of committed, talented, visionary members of the black middle class/middle income who are ready to assume serious leadership in the ongoing confrontation with proponents of white supremacy/racism. Those who are prepared to assume that responsibility should be guided by the following observations:
Lerone Bennett Jr., Journalist/Historian
The black middle class can no longer avoid its destiny. The black middle class can no longer avoid the necessity of redefining itself in terms of the needs of black people. It is necessary now for the black middle class to become the servant of the black community and not the mediator of the white community. It is not necessary for all blacks to do the same thing. But it is necessary for all black people to do something. It is equally important for the black community to judge individuals on the basis of their contributions. Some men can write, some can fix cars, some can cook, some can raise hell; all—the writer, the mechanic, the cook, the hellraiser—are valuable because their skills are complementary and not contradictory.
Earl B. Dickerson, Entrepreneur
As more and more blacks move into the middle class, they owe a responsibility to the black community. If blacks go into the white community to get the know-how, and then stay there, they are only pushing further away from the possibilities of blacks ever becoming economically sufficient. I call upon these young men and women to get the experience, to get the foundation, and, before they are too old, to move back into the black community to help blacks achieve economic equality. The economic insufficiency in the black community can never be improved to any substantial extent merely by employing a few middle class blacks. We’ve got to improve the purchasing power of the total community.
Carter G. Woodson, Historian/Educator
In the schools of business administration, Negroes are trained excessively in the psychology and economics of Wall Street and are, therefore, made to despise the opportunities to run ice wagons, push banana carts and sell peanuts among their own people. Foreigners, who have not studied economics, but have studied Negroes, take up this business and grow rich.
Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Politician
Black communities of this country—whether it is New York’s Harlem, Chicago’s South and West sides, or Philadelphia’s North side—must neither tolerate nor accept outside leadership—black or white. Each community must provide its own local leadership, strengthening the resources within its own local community. The masses should only follow those leaders who can sit at the bargaining table with the white power structure as equals and negotiate for a share of the loaf of bread, not beg for some of its crumbs. We must stop sending little boys whose organizations are controlled and financed by white businessmen to do a man’s job. Because only those who are financially independent can be men. This is why I earlier called for black people to finance their own organizations and institutions. In so doing, the black masses guarantee the independence of their black leadership. This black leadership—the ministers, politicians, businessmen, doctors, and lawyers—must come back to the Negroes who made them in the first place or be purged by the black masses.
Harold Cruse, Educator
The reason that the debate on black economy has gone on back and forth is because the idea is closely associated with nationalism and the integrationists would rather be tarred and feathered than suspected of the nationalist taint….Building a black economy could be done with the aid of attributes that the Negro has never developed, i.e., discipline, self-denial, cooperative organization and knowledge of economic science.
Martin Luther King Jr., Civil Rights Leader
Black Power is also a call for the pooling of black financial resources to achieve economic security. While the ultimate answer to the Negroes’ economic dilemma will be found in a massive federal program for all the poor along the line of A. Philip Randolph’s Freedom Budget, a kind of Marshall Plan for the disadvantaged, there is something that the Negro himself can do to throw off the shackles of poverty. Although the Negro is still at the bottom of the economic ladder, his collective annual income is upwards of $30 billion. This gives him a considerable buying power that can make the difference between profit and loss in many businesses. Through the pooling of such resources and the development of habits of thrift and techniques of wise investment, the Negro will be doing his share to grapple with his problem of economic deprivation. If Black Power means the development of this kind of strength within the Negro community, then it is a quest for basic, necessary, legitimate power…. There are already structured forces in the Negro community that can serve as the basis for building a powerful united front—the Negro church, the Negro press, the Negro fraternities and sororities, and Negro professional association. We must admit that these forces have never given their full resources to the cause of Negro liberation…. But the failures of the past must not be an excuse for the inaction of the present and the future. These groups must be mobilized and motivated. This form of group unity can do infinitely more to liberate the Negro than any action of individuals. We have been oppressed as a group and we must overcome that oppression as a group.
Brother Malcolm X, Human Rights Leader
Basically, there are two kinds of power that count in America: economic and political, with social power deriving from the two. In order for the Afro-Americans to control their destiny, they must be able to control and affect the decisions which control their destiny: economic, political, and social. This can only be done through organization. The Organization of Afro-American Unity will organize the Afro-American community block by block to make the community aware of its power and potential; we will start immediately a voter-registration drive to make every unregistered voter in the Afro-American community an independent voter; we propose to support and/or organize political clubs, to run independent candidates for office, and to support any Afro-American already in office who answers to and is responsible to the Afro-American community. Economic exploitation in the Afro-American community is the most vicious form practiced on any people in America: twice as much rent for rat-infested, roach-crawling, rotting tenements; the Afro-American pays more for food, clothing, insurance rates and so forth. The Organization of Afro-American Unity will wage an unrelenting struggle against these evils in our community. There will organizers to work with the people to solve these problems, and start a housing self-improvement program. We propose to support rent strikes and other activities designed to better the community.
These are concrete, achievable guidelines for a group of people who are serious about promoting and defending their cultural, economic and political interests in this country.