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Friday, November 21, 2014

My letter is received . . .


I get a telephone call in response to my letter . . .   

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Go at it boldly, and you'll find unexpected forces closing round you and coming to your aid.


As I thought back on what visual metaphor would best describe what happened in the Fall of 2014, what came to mind was the seminal event of human existence: The moment of conception when an Ovum and a single Sperm Cell combine to form the single Diploid Cell which then – God willing – develops into the human being which each of has become.  

While that moment of political conception would not occur until early in 2015, the struggle of my male Gamete through the Political Fallopian tubes represented by the image above best describes what my singular idea – my political DNA if you will – struggled through to arrive at the Political Ovum.

The payload of my Political DNA contained in my Gamete was expressed in a letter addressed to a specific group: the Black Caucus of each State Legislature which had such a Caucus.  Here is what that letter said:

Greetings,

I write to request that you use your singular political position to save this political union we inherited called the United States of America from its imminent destruction.  Let me explain:

I have inherited a set of genes and grew up in circumstances that compel me to write this letter. From the 18th century, my ancestors have fought for the extermination of the de jure and de facto enslavement of Americans of African descent.  From refusing to sign the U.S. Constitution for the failure to address the “slave question”, to representing Dred Scott at the Supreme Court, to seeing in 1946 that a grand-daughter of a slave was named Mother of the Year, my ancestors have chosen to act in the face of the injustices they saw in their time.  How could I – at this time of similar great injustices – do anything less?  Hence this, my plea to you.

I hardly need to detail what you – as an American of African descent – have inherited.  The National Urban League recently reported that the underemployment rate for males Americans of African descent was 20.5 percent, compared with 11.8 percent for Americans of Northern European descent.  According to the America Community Survey, an American of African descent born in 1991 has a 29% chance of spending time in prison at some point in his life and nearly one in three male Americans of African descent aged 20–29 are under some form of criminal justice supervision whether imprisoned, jailed, or on parole or probation. Americans of African descent make up 13.8 percent of the U.S. population, but account for over 27 percent of Americans now living in poverty.  Finally, the Pew Charitable Trust predicted that by the year 2050, the nation's racial and ethnic mix will look quite different than it does now. Americans of Northern European descent, who made up 67% of the population in 2005, will be 47% in 2050. Hispanics will rise from 14% of the population in 2005 to 29% in 2050. Asians, who were 5% of the population in 2005, will be 9% in 2050. Americans of African descent, who were 13% of the population in 2005, will be the same proportion in 2050.  What will this inevitable trend of necessarily decreasing political power coupled with the presently appalling economic/prison statistics portend for Americans of African descent over the next 35 years?  I don’t need to do the math for you.

I would follow that question with this one: Do you honestly believe the present political structure is going to provide the best avenue to address and remedy the present appalling civic state of Americans of African descent?  I, for one, do not.  I believe the ridiculous concentration of power of the federal government in the hands of a few is the source of much of the problems we face as a nation.

Accordingly, I believe the solution lies in calling an Article V Convention to propose Amendments to the Constitution to distill from the wisdom of the crowd assembled at that Convention a redistribution of power to the States and the People, respectively.  The result: the promises of this Union can be realized by all and not just the entrenched few who perpetrate their positions of power through the influence of the money they wield.

So I write to ask you to take two actions:  First, use your influence to have me invited to speak to this Article V proposition at the 2014 National Black Caucus of State Legislators Annual Legislative Conference in Dallas, Texas this December 10th.  If the status quo is not acceptable – and I trust you and I can agree upon that – then my voice needs to be heard to propose a radically-new course of action which curiously, you and your Brothers and Sisters are ironically postured as the only group cohesive enough to pull off.

Second, if invited, I will speak to the wisdom of invoking the Article V power to have each representative return to their respective States and introduce a resolution in their legislature to “call a Convention for proposing Amendments” to the Congress of the United States of America. If two-third of the legislatures of the several States call for such a Convention, Congress will be compelled to convene such a Convention. If asked to speak, I will detail that if this is done, if nothing else the fear that such an action will cause in the ruling-elite will vastly increase your bargaining power in the political poker game.  Do this and perhaps you will help re-write the Constitution to see that its lofty goals are finally realized by all in this Century.  Don’t do this and, well, the future is then your responsibility, not mine, for I would have done all I can in my limited power by writing this letter to you.

Finally, please note that in-so-much as time is of the essence, I have take the liberty of sending the text of this letter to each State’s Black Caucus.  Full details of my motivations and actions can be found at: www.FifthArticle.com.
Looking forward to the favor of your reply, I remain, 
/s/ Montgomery Blair Sibley

What happened next proved the maxim: "Go at it boldly, and you'll find unexpected forces closing round you and coming to your aid.”

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

"Equality is not an anthropological, political, sociological or economic question; it is a theological question. Either God made everybody in his own image, or he didn't make anybody at all.

While I never met the four preceding ancestors of whom I have written, the last in this group was near and dear to me: My paternal grandmother, Mrs. Harper Sibley (pictured at right). In 1946, she allied herself with Paul Robeson and the American Crusade to End Lynching. The full story is reported in Albert Einstein's FBI file, but the salient parts follow:
When his illness prevented him from attending the Washington anti-lynching rally, Einstein sent a letter to be delivered to the President by Robeson and the other ACEL leaders, but in view of what occurred at the White House, it's uncertain that Einstein's letter was ever handed to Truman.

After the rally, which drew some 3,000 protesters, a multi-racial delegation, including Robeson, Rabbi Irving Miller of the American Jewish Congress and Mrs. Harper Sibley, president of the United Council of Church Women and wife of the former president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, met with Truman in the Oval Office. The gentlest term that might describe their meeting is confrontational. Almost as soon as Robeson began reading the group's statement calling for immediate Executive action to stop the lynch mobs, the President interrupted: The timing was not yet right for an anti-lynching law, he said, and the delegation ought to appreciate the fact that America and Great Britain were "the last refuge of freedom in the world." Somewhat less than appreciative, Robeson answered that Britain was one of the world's "great enslavers of human beings." When Mrs. Sibley made a comparison between fascism against the Jews in Europe and fascism in America as levied against Negroes, the President showed impatience and a flare of temper.
Robeson said returning [black] veterans are showing signs of restiveness and indicated that they are determined to get the justice here they have fought for abroad. Robeson warned that this restiveness might produce an emergency situation which would require Federal intervention. The President, shaking his fist, stated this sounded like a threat.
Robeson's implied ultimatum that if the government would not provide protection, black people would defend themselves was, apparently, too much for Truman who promptly ended the meeting.
It would be another ten years before Rosa Parks and other working women of Montgomery took on that town's segregated buses and several more years before tens of thousands of young people joined in mass anti-racist actions; but in 1946 the rumblings had begun that would erupt into the civil rights movement of the 1960's.  My Grandmother was front and center at that first moment.

The point is this: This woman, born to the life of aristocratic privilege (her father was a New York City stockbroker and polo player) in which she could have spent her life, instead followed the call she heard to face head-on the injustices of her time. For example, when she was unanimously chosen American Mother of the Year in 1945, she did not rest on that laurel, but instead my Grandmother used that position to see that Emma Clarissa Clement, the granddaughter of a slave, was chosen as American Mother of the Year in 1946 despite fierce opposition from southern state delegates.  Seventy years on, this may seem like a trifle -- in 1945, it was revolutionary.

Which brings me to my Grandmother's quote contained in the title of this piece: ""Equality is not an anthropological, political, sociological or economic question; it is a theological question. Either God made everybody in his own image, or he didn't make anybody at all."

Needless to say, we do not have "equality" in this Country due to the perversion of the political machinery which now maintains inequality rather than preventing it.  Faced with this fact I hold as gospel, I could not do nothing:  Like George Mason, Francis Preston Blair, Montgomery Blair, Frank Blair and Mrs. Harper Sibley, I too must act.

And so starting in mid-November 2014, I embarked on the only course I saw left to me and my skills to discharge that genomic/theological obligation . . .

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