Education and Black Struggle: Notes from the Colonized World

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Education and Black Struggle: Notes from the Colonized World

Table of contents :
Part I "ibw and the Vocation of the Black Scholar," includes "The Vocation of the Black Scholar and the Struggles of the Black Community," Vincent Harding.

Part ii "Colonial Ideology and Colonized Resistance," includes: "African Independence and the Myth of African Inferiority," C.L.R. James; "In the Mirror of Black Scholarship: W. Allison Davis and Deep South," St. Clair Drake; and "Statement of Position to the Commonwealth Literature and Language Conference; Jamaica, 1971."

Part iii, "Building the New Education Out of the Old," includes: "Education: The Great Obsession," Grace Lee Boggs; "Education in Africa and Contemporary Tanzania," Walter Rodney; "Education," Julius Nyerere; and "Building an Alternative," an article from "Nhan Dan."

Part iv, "Selected Documents in New Black Education: The People Define Themselves," includes: "Breaking Through Prison Barriers," Black Prisoners; and, "The Teaching of Robert E. Rumble--A Jamaican Peasant Leader," as told to Robert A. Hill and Richard Small.

Part v, an "Epilogue," includes "Identity and Black Struggle: Personal Reflections," William L. Strickland.

Part vi, an "Appendix," includes "Documents from a Developing History," The Institute of the Black World. (Jm).

Citation preview

Contributors Vincent Harding C. L. R.James St. Clair Drake Grace Lee Boggs Walter Rodney Julius Nyerere Black Prisoners Robert A. Hill Richard Small William Strickland

$3.50 Harvard Educational Review Monograph No. 2








the Colonized




E D U C A T I O N '// N o t e s

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C o l o n i z e d

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Copyright © 1974 by President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Designed and Printed by Capital City Press, Montpelier, Vermont. First printing, 1974 Library of Congress Card Number 73-91477 Printed in the United States of America Published by Harvard Massachusetts 02138 Educational Review, Longfellow Hall, 13 Appian-Way, Cambridge, Edited by The Institute of the Black World, 87 Chestnut Street, S. W., Atlanta, Georgia 30314.




Notes from the Colonized



Preface PART I IBW AND THE VOCATION OF THE BLACK SCHOLAR The Vocation of the Black Scholar and the Struggles of the Black Community






African Independence and the Myth of African Inferiority



In the Mirror of Black Scholarship: Davis and Deep South


Statement of Position to the Commonwealth Literature and Language Conference; Jamaica, 1971 v





Education: The Great Obsession



Education in Africa and ^Contemporary Tanzania


Education Building an Alternative

W. .Allison




Breaking through Prison Barriers The Teaching of Robert E. fiumbie— A Jamaican








and Black

Personal 145





Documents from a Developing

Photographs by PHILLIP A. GHEE



The Third World today faces Europe like a colossal mass whose aim should be to try and resolve the problems to which Europe has not been able to find the answers. Frantz Fanon

We have called these collected essays Education and Biack Struggle: Notes from the Colonized World because we consider as "colonized" all relations where one raccof men has dominion over another. T h u s we affirm an essential unity of identity between black America a n d the Third World, arising out of oux common history of bondage to the white West and out of our common need to resolve the "answerless" present which we have been bequeathed by Europe and America. Indeed, we see our deepest unity in the individual but related struggles for a new future which all of us must wage. The need to find an alternative path to those which Europe and America have followed, shapes the Institute's view of education and that of our brothers, sisters, mentors and friends whose words also appear here. Our joint concern about "education," as these essays from across the world will evidence, has very little in common with time-honored concepts of academe. That is as it should be. Our commitment is to our people, to the pursuit of truth, to new answers, to the development of -new black men and women—and to struggle. Coming of age within the womb of this deadly culture, we see no other real or honest choice. The idea for a collaborative effort between the Institute of the Black World and the Harvard Educational Review was conceived in July, 1971. Contact w a s made later in the year between the two groups and formal conversations were begun in January, 1972. Through the rest of that year the shaping and defining of what collaboration would really mean between an independent black institution such as IBW and an independent white journal of HER's reputation were intense, but always straightforward. We wish to thank the editorial board of the Harvard Educational Review for their assistance in the production of this issue, and the Southern Educa-

s R S i s ^ s : ; : r : ~ — — S e n t e d W e o express our special thanks to B X ? r » ' ^ wish initiati 'he project, and to Margaret Marshal and B T , ^ '°T ^ Ma k aVis for th v.gorous-andmuch-appre.iated-tpport" ' ° ° kinship, or associations, or social stratification.

About the Author: St. Clair Drake, best known for his work as co-author of Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City [New York: Harcourt Brace, 1945J is a native of Suffolk, Virginia, He has had long and close involvement with the various historical strands of the Pan-African movement, on the one hand, and nearly thirty years of uninterrupted teaching, publishing, and research in the area of African and Afro-American culture, on the other. He is currently serving as chairman of the Program in African and Afro-American Studies and professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Stanford University. Copyright © 1974 St. Clair Drake



In the Mirror of Black Scholarship ST. CLAIR DRAKE

[3] to select a problem that contributed to racial advancement, as we used to call it. Today we call it Black Liberation.... I have chosen to place these recollections of events that had their beginnings over forty years ago in an autobiographical framework to illustrate the manner in which my generation of black sociologists, and those immediately preceding us, became involved in research. It is essential to realize that we were always working under whites. In many cases ^we made the decisive intellectual input, but ultimately the money came from whites, and very often the director of many of our studies w a s a white person. We are probably in a new period how when we can break new kinds of ground, but iri those days this happened to he "the way the cookie crumbled." ST. CLAIR DRAKE Stanford, California May 27,1973

T h e Y e a r s Before D e e p


I entered Hampton Institute in the year 1927 and spent four years at Booker T. Washington's old school, majoring in biology. (The first course I ever had in sociology was probably in 1936. Hampton didn't teach it back in those days.) In 1927 the school was in the midst of transforming itself from a trade school into some kind of a college. I had not been there very long when the students declared a strike and put forth sixty-four demands. The Board closed the place down, and the students had to re-register and sign a loyalty oath if they wanted to get back in. There w a s no black head of a department at Hampton, nor was there a black full professor. Emphasis w a s heavily on Booker T. Washington's philosophy. There were however two faculty persons, around whom black students with an "intellectual" bent tended to gather, who took the position that students ought also to learn to use their heads critically, to think, as well as to render social service, d n e of them w a s a biologist, Dr. Thomas W. Turner, who had come to Hampton from Howard University. Turner was one of the two distinguished black biologists of the period. [The other was Ernest Just, who stayed at Howard.] Turner w a s also an outstanding Catholic layman, who was always protesting against segregation in the Catholic Church.


The other person on campus whom students felt had larger horizons than Hampton was a young man who had just come down from Harvard, W. Allison Davis. After finishing at Williams College, Davis had gone on to Harvard and taken a Master's degree in English. He Hampton as a professor of English Literature, bearing the message of Irving Babbit's "New Humanism." Davis tried to stimulate young black students to write. He gave magnificent lectures on English literature, and some of us who were majoring in other fields took all of his courses that we could because he was a breath of fresh air at Hampton. A small writers club formed around Davis, who had become a sort of campus hero. He seemed to brood a lot though and, except for that small group of students who appreciated him, he didn't interact much with the student body. However, during the student strike in 1927, he was among those few faculty members who conferred with the students informally and helped them to "get it together." That also increased student respect for him. Then in 1929 Davis wrote an article called, "The Negro Deserts His People," which appeared in the magazine Plain Talk.'1 It was an important article which said that the internal color-line within the black community would have to be broken and'that the many educated Blacks who were running from the South should instead return to work in the South. For the 1920's this was revolutionary talk and the article had a profound effect on our student generation because the author was sounding a call to "straighten up our heads," as young Blacks today would put it. During this same period Davis was beginning to re-think his own career. A brilliant teacher of English literature, he w a s also interested in social trends and the problem of relevance. So, sometime after writing "The Negro Deserts His People," Davis made a crucial decision—he left the field of'English for the social sciences. I think that this decision was tied closely to the feeling among many of us in the early thirties that there were two intellectual tasks that needed to be undertaken by black scholars; The first was 'that of setting the historical record straight. Carter G. Woodson, through the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, the Journal of Negro History, Negro History Bulletin, and "Negro History Week" had been grappling with the problem of the omissions and distortions of American history. But what was not being done effectively by black i Allison Davis, "The Negro Deserts His People," PJoin Talk, 5 (1929), pp. 49-54. 44


In the Mirror of Black Scholarship ST. CLAIR DRAKE

scholars, partly because we didn't at that time have anyone trained to do it, waschallenging the equivalent of today's Shockleys and Jensens, those who took the position that Blacks are biologically inferior. Black scholars at that time were not effectively countering the "intellectual" stream of biological determinism. And since anthropology w a s the new field attempting to fill this void, 2 1 think it was quite understandable that Allison Davis decided to go back to school and take a Master's degree in anthropology. Davis went to England to study at the University of London with the most distinguished British anthropologist of the day, Bronislaw Malinowski. He studied with Malinowski for a year, but more importantly, he was privately tutored by a very unusual Englishman, Lancelot Hogben, who was interested in the problem of "nature vs. nurture." Hogben w a s trying to point out that the social environment was the decisive factor in individual development, and that biology did not account for low social status. 3 The first article that Allison Davis published during this period of his career was on worldwide distribution of blood types. Allison Davis w a s working with Malinowski and Hogben in 1932 or 1933. In the meantime I had finished college in 1931, a bad year of the Depression, and taken iriy first job. teaching high school in the mountains of Virginia at the'Christianburg Normal and Industrial Institute in Cambria. It was there that I received a letter from Allison Davis, my old English professor; telling me that he had entered a whole new world. He said that he was reading Marx, as well as social anthropology, and that he liked what Lancelot Hogben, a non-dogmatic Marxist, had to'say. I kept up this>correspondence and sent some of-my not-very-good poetry and essays over to England .for Davis to criticize. At some point he suggested that I start' reading anthropology, because it was interesting and important. I* w a s stuck out in the Virginia mountains, so I did begin to reeducate myself. In the summers I would go North and come back with a few books, mostly on anthropology and philosophy. Meanwhile Davis had returned to the United States and met W. Lloyd Warner, a white anthropologist who had just come back from Australia and 2 In 1911 Franz Boas' book. The Mind of Primitive Men (rev. ed.; New York: Free Press, 1965), took on the biological racists. He trained a group of students, the first generation of professional American: anthropologists, among whom were Melville J. Herskovits and Ruth Benedict, who were to take an aggressive stand against racist scholarship. 3 The principal works of Lancelot Hogben at this period were Genetic Principles in Medicine and Social Science (London: Williams and Norgate, 1931), and Nature and Nurture (New York: W. W. Norton, 1933). He later published the very popular Mathematics for the MilJions: A Popular Self-Educator (London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1936).


was writing a~book that was eventually published as A Black Civilization: A Social Study of an Australian Tribe.4 Warner joined the faculty at Harvard, and decided that he wanted to study an American town in the same manner that he had studied the Australian Aborigines. He selected the little town of Newburyport, Massachusetts, close to Harvard, and used a number of graduate students, some of whom were on the Works Progress Adminisr tration [W.P.A.],5 as participant-observers. Warner concluded that in order to understand "Yankee City," which was what he called Newburyport, you had to recognize "social class" as the main organizing principle in American life.6 Warner's hypothesis was that everybody was trying to get money and education and whatever else it took to climb the "social ladder." As people climbed, they consolidated into classes. Life magazine picked this up and popularized his "lower-lower" to "upper-upper" formulation. Warner felt that he had nailed down the* question of social class in America. And he became quite famous. Allison Davis, who was then working toward his Ph.D. at Harvard, became one of Warner's students. Warner asked him to study Blacks in "Yankee City," but since there were only eighty in the town, when Warner wrote up the-whole study, Davis' field research wasn't included in the final work. At this point, however, Warner decided that they should now find a place down South, about the same size as "Yankee City," and try to do a comparative'community study. First Warner and Davis hammered out a model for the way they thought the South was set up. 7 They postulated that the South was organized fundamentally along caste lines. As an anthropologist, Warner was very interested in comparing social systems, and his argument »was that the South reminded him of India. Warner and Davis hypothesized that the social system of the South consisted of two racial castes distinguished by caste-markers. The distinction or demarcation was based on physical features, color, and knowledge of * New York and London: Harper and Bros., 1937. 5 A U. S. Federal public works program which was established in 1935, reorganized in 1939 as the Works Progress Administration, and kept in effect until June 30,1943. * William Lloyd Warner and Paul S. Lunt, The Sociai Life of a Modern Community (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1941); half-title: Yankee City Series. Ultimately, six volumes were published. See also his Socio/ Ciass in America: A Manual of Procedure for the Measurement of Social • Status with Marchia Meeker and Kenneth EeUV (New York: Harper Torchbook, 1960). 7 W. Lloyd Warner and Allison Davis, "A Comparative Study of American Caste" in Race Relations and the Race Problem, ed. Edgar, Thompson (Durham, N.C.: Duke University, 1939), pp. 219-245. 46

In the Mirror of Black Scholarship ST. CLAIR DRAtOT

descent. What made the system interesting theoretically w a s that within each racial caste there were^social classes, similar to the social-class system in "Yankee City." This raised an intriguing question: how do people of different classes act toward each other across the caste line? They decided to study Natchez, Mississippi, to see if the system really operated as they hypothesized. The research was made possible by a grant from Harvard University. And the story behind that grant, as Warner told it to me, was that he sold the research plan to the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration on a point of business practicality. There was a box factory in Natchez and Warner suggested to Harvard that "if there is a caste system and Northern capital starts to invest, it looks as if you are going to have to have two toilets, two lunchrooms, two of everything, and that's going to increase the cost of investment. Therefore, you ought to know something about the South." They bought the idea that you couldn't understand the box factory if you didn't understand the town, and that you couldn't understand the town if you didn't understand the surrounding county! The kind of study Warner and Davis envisioned demanded an interracial team, so Burleigh Gardner, a white Texan, and his wife, Mary, collaborated with Allison Davis and his wife, Elizabeth. The white researchers became participant-observers in the white segment of the society, outlining its clique and class structure. Gardner, who had a strong interest in industrial relations, also made a thorough analysis of the box-factory situation. Deep South thus reflects the interests of two scholars who worked closely together, as friends and colleagues, getting leads from each other's field notes with eacp. gathering the kind of data it would have been impossible for the other to have gained. It does not detract from Gardner's contribution to emphasize what Davis' name in the senior author's position makes clear— that he is responsible for the basic theoretical contributions. I got involved in the Natchez study when, one day in 1935, while I was teaching in Christianburg, I received a letter from Davis asking if I would join the research team as an apprentice social scientist. He knew I had strong "activist" leanings, and his position appealed to me: "You can't really smash the system if you don't understand how it works. The first problem is to learn the dynamics of that system." Well, I certainly was interested in "smashing it," because all of us hated racial caste. I w a s also tired of teaching high school up in the mountains, so I was ready to go. > In Natchez, Davis w a s participating intimately in an upper-class ,black


group, so he couldn't hang around the black lower-class neighborhood of Minersville. Being some ten years Davis' junior and kind of crazy, I was quite willing to work "the bottom" of-the social structure. I was advised to move in and begin my participant-observation in a home in Minersville. There were real rough taverns, called "juke houses," and some shouting churches around. It was fascinating, sometimes dangerous, and stimulated an enduring interest of mine in the urban "bottom," 8 and in the sharecropper problem. Our essential approach was trying to see black people from two perspectives—top and bottom, in city and hinterland. Our goal was first of all descriptive, How do people live at each of these levels? What are their attitudes and behavior across the caste line with class as a variable? The second objective was explanatory, understanding how tjiat particular society worked and testing the caste-class hypothesis with the idea that ascertaining the facts would have some relevance for social change. This was the same kind that DuBois had when he wrote in The Philadelphia Negro;. Despite all drawbacks and difficulties, however, the main results of the inquiry seem credible. They agree to a large extent with general public opinion, and in other respects they seem either logically explicable or in accord with historical precedents. They are therefore presented to the public, not as complete and without error, but as possessing on the whole enough reliable-matter to serve as the scientific basis of further study and of proctica! reform.9 I think that the black team members all went into Natchez in the thirties with the same position: if we understood the system, we could more knowledgeably contribute towards reforming it. This was the genesis of the research, as I remember it from conversations with Warner, and I believe that Davis and Gardner's Deep South represents the best book that was produced on so-called "race relations" in the South up to the 1960's. Other books, however, like Caste and Class in a Southern Town by John Dollard, got all the play. 10 Deep South never really received the attention that it should have been given. It was an important piece of work for two reasons: first, it clarified the relations between Blacks and whites in the American South, and, second, it • When Horace Cayton and I embarked upon our study in Chicago, I gathered the data for the chapters on "Lower Class: Sex and Family," and "The World of the Lower Class"; Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City. I later wrote my doctoral dissertation on a rough dockside community in Wales.8 (1899; rev. ed. New York: Schocken, 1967), p.4. 10 Although Caste and Class in a Southern Town (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University 48

In the Mirror of Black Scholarship ST. CLAIR DRAKE

laid the groundwork for certain approaches that later would lead to changing those relations. T h e S i g n i f i c a n c e of D e e p S o u t h The subtitle of Deep South is A Social Anthropological Study of Caste and Class. That set the study firmly within the field.of social anthropology, a new discipline in the United States in those days. After the title page is the. dedication: "To Edwin R. Ernbree, social engineer with a faith in the science of human behavior." Ernbree w a s the white head of the Rosenwald Fund, which w a s the most influential fund handing out money at, the time for research on "the black question." Then there is. a preface by the authors in which they describe how the research was carried out and state their appreciation to Warner, both for his teaching and for his organization of the research. They assert that their indebtedness to Warner began with the conception of the study and extended to all the benefits of his friendship and inspiration. It is then noted that the field work w a s performed by the three authors, together with Mrs. Elizabeth S. Davis and J. G. St. Clair Drake. The original draft of Deep Soufh consisted of about twelve hundred manuscript pages, and I was assigned the job of cutting it down by a third and taking it through the press. My work was acknowledged in the preface, a rather generous tribute to a person who up to this point had only taken two formal courses in sociology or anthropology! I had learned by working as an apprentice to Davis. In Yankee City Warner had been dealing with the question of social class: matters of social prestige and social interaction. The premise advanced in Deep South, however, was that in the South caste w a s the principle used for .distributing and allocating economic-political power and social prestige. Deep South is the first study which said clearly that the relations between Blacks and whites in the South were not matters of race relations, but of relations between social groups acting according to caste and class norms. At an early age everyone learns the behavior that is considered appropriate for the social class to which he or she belongs. Class is a sub-culture Press, 1937) was more widely read than Deep South, John Dollard himself has acknowledged his indebtedness to Davis for the caste concept; see Children of Bondage (Washington, D.C.,: American Council Council on Education, 1940), intro.

taught by a person's family and his milieu. White people in the South are taught how to act towards people who are of a lower caste. Thus, in Deep South, we systematically isolated various types of relations: between upper whites and upper Blacks, upper-middle whites and upper Blacks, lowermiddle whites and upper Blacks and so on, to learn how people at each of these levels were taught to act toward each other. We found that if we looked at these phenomena as a system, the interrelations were- functional; each side got something from the other, and that's what made the system hang together. I came out of the Mississippi experience with the conviction that, in Adams County, at least, it was not lower-lower-class whites and lowerlower-class Blacks who were primarily hostile to each other. The hostility came, rather, from upper-lower-class whites trying to win prestige with the upper-class whites and to defend their own interests. They were the ones who were really rough on Blacks. At the very bottom of the social pyramid, in some of the Holiness Churches, Blacks and whites were rolling together on the floor, singing and shouting together, and eating together. Fornicating together was not unknown among "sinners" either. Thus, at the lower-lower-class level there was a great deal of interaction between the two races. It was the upwardly mobile lower-class white crowd that was most rabidly anti-black. On many levels, the system was consciously manipulated. There were trade-offs running in each direction to keep the system functioning as a whole. The high-status black woman with the white lover was able to put money into black church rallies, and the lower-status black woman who was a police officer's concubine was able to get lower-class Blacks out of trouble though operating more or less as an informer at the same time. The black investigators had a special contribution to make to the study of these "trade-offs." For instance, down in Minersville, where I was doing my study, I noted that there was a white bachelor judge who used to drive through the neighborhood occasionally. Whenever that judge's car started down the street, everybody would tell the girls to "Get in the house, the judge is riding." The judge would call the girls out and say that he had some clothing which needed to be washed, and, since nobody wanted to defy him, he would take his pick of the black girls around the area. The system gave special sexual privilege's to white males—a caste privilege. One day one of the black doctors was very upset because the judge had called his daughter and tried to make a date with her. He was disturbed 50

In the Mirror of Black Scholarship ST. CLAIR DRAKE

because the code was that upper-class white men should not try to seduce upper-class black women in this fashion. The doctor's daughter said that she had cursed the judge out over the phone. The .doctor was in a dilemma. He turned to the researcher and said, "Here I am, a man, and I can't even protect my own daughter! Here I am, sitting around scared." When later asked what he actually did, he said, "I picked up the phone and I called the judge and I said, 'Look, you know you drink rather heavily, and I think you must have been a bit high and thought you were calling someone else. You just really didn't know what you were doing.' The judge said, 'You're right, you're right. That liquor gets me all the time.'" The judge, in essence, had been probing, and when he was rebuffed by the upper-class black woman, the doctor was forced to give him a bridge to back over. Hence the judge's admission, "Liquor gets me," and his promise not to bother the doctor's daughter any more. Another black doctor had a son away at school who occasionally needed some money. If the son needed a hundred dollars, the doctor could go to a white landlord out in the country and say to him, "My son needs a hundred dollars." The landlord could then go out to ten cabins, knock on the door and say, "John, didn't you say Annie had the misery in her back?" John was not going to say, "No." The landlord would line up ten people in this fashion, and the doctor would go and look at them at night, charging, for instance, twenty dollars for a night visit. The landlord would then give the black doctor a hundred dollars, but put twenty dollars per person on the books, ten dollars for the carrying charge. When cotton time came, the full twenty dollars was deducted from the tenant's share of the crop. Thus, the landlord had gotten himself something out of it and the black doctor had also received his one hundred dollars. The black doctor, in this system of trade-offs, was able to get money when he wanted it, and the white landlord was able to pass this fee on to the tenants at double the price. One final instance of trade-offs. Mississippi had a Prohibition Law which was always defended on the grounds that black laborers would not work well if liquor was available, and that they would probably rape, white women when drunk. But that wasn't the real story. In the county where we were doing our research, a law officer owned the stills and his black assistant made the liquor. No liquor was sold until Friday night and then it was sold all over the place. On midnight Saturday, the police started arresting people for disorderly conduct. One dollar per head was budgeted for feeding the prisoners, but they were fed for twenty cents. On Monday mornings, the 51

judge started giving out sentences—one month in jail or ten dollars fine. All the planters then would come to ransom "their Negroes," because they needed their labor. That money went into the political machine. Thus, there was the profit from selling the liquor, a "rake-off" from feeding the prisoners, plus the money the political machine got from the fines. That was the system. Davis and Gardner had gone originally to study the social-class aspects of the system, but as they began to look at it, they were struck by its economic features. Although they might have started without Marxian concepts, they were nonetheless driven to examine the system from what was essentially a Marxian angle. Here, Davis made the distinctive contribution. I think that the real significance of Deep South comes from his section entitled "The Intimidation of Labor." In that chapter, it is suggested that the whole system runs for one fundamental purpose: to keep a labor supply intimidated so that the surplus value could be reaped from the laborers. That is the real significance of the two chapters entitled "The Intimidation of Labor" and "The Plantation in a Social Setting." Davis, I'm sure, didn't consider himself a Marxist, but this was a Marxist approach. Davis included in the latter chapter a map, unique at the time, which w a s very carefully constructed to show the distribution of land, for black and white land-owners, in yield per acre. It graphically demonstrated that the black farmers had been shoved on to land which had the lowest yield per acre. So Davis demonstrated that one ought to look at two systems of social relations, the economic and the social, and then ask: how do these interrelate? That kind of economic analysis is something which you will not find in John Dollard's Caste and Class in a Southern Town nor in Hortense Powdermaker's After Freedom: A Cultural Study in the Deep South.11 Davis' work provided a very careful delineation of how the system worked to the economic disadvantage of Blacks and how its social and economic aspects were interconnected. At the time, one of the agencies of the Federal government was handing out money to people to take one-third of their land out of production, in response to the so-called crisis of "over-production." The original idea was that a planter would retain all his sharecroppers while taking a third of each one's land out of production. The sharecropper was then to collect money in proportion to the amount of his untilled land. The black and white landlords, however, got together and figured out another, system. Each simply took one-third of his whole plantation out of production, and then let these 11


(1939; reprinted New York: Russell, 1968).

In the Mirror of Black Scholarship ST. CLAIR DRAKE

tenant-farmers go off to Memphis or somewhere else and get on W.P.A. By that means, the landlords were able to keep all the money themselves. With such examples, Davis w a s able to suggest that when economic interests intervened, people could forget the caste line. Black landlords and white landlords sat down together to figure out a way to "rip off" their tenants. Therefore, a major contribution of Deep South w a s Davis' profound economic-analysis. It is worth pointing out here that he later wrote his Ph.D. thesis on "Caste, Economy, and Violence," merging a Marxist approach'with Warner's analysis. The unique contribution of Deep South w a s the attempt , to do what neither Warner nor his other students ever did, to interface the Marxian analysis with Warner's sociology: He may not have conceptualized himself as doing that but, objectively considered, that is what he did. The second important thing which Deep South did was to emphasize the relation of learned behavior to race relations. Later, other scholars began to recognize that it was possible to change a caste system so that people could learn new ways of behavior toward people of other strata. The next step would then be to study how to create these new situations. In other words, Davis took the emphasis away from genetics and the widespread historical belief that race prejudice w a s somehow inherited. He clarified the point that it w a s the system, not the genes, that had to be studied if one wanted to effect meaningful social change. When we came out of the Deep South experience, all of us felt that under certain conditions, racial behavior in the South could be rapidly changed. We dropped psychological concepts as basic tools, because we were convinced that what we were dealing with was not really prejudice. We didn't ask the question, is Mr. X prejudiced? That w a s meaningless. We asked another question: how has Mr. X been act on the white side, given his social position? What economic, political, and social gains does he get out of maintaining the social system? And how can those gains be offset by other gains produced by a changed caste system? The theory w a s that once political power w a s in the hands of Blacks, whites would modify their behavior to achieve new economic, political, and social gains. This sort of thing, which has been happening in Atlanta and elsewhere in the South, could have been predicted from the Deep South study. I feel that the real significance of Davis' work was its effect on all students of Southern life. Stokely Carmichael, Rap Brown, James Forman, as well as Martin Luther King, were exposed to it in college. For the Supreme Court desegregation case in 1954, Kenneth Clark used data from Deep 53

South in the social part of the brief. So the study by Davis, which dealt with the problem of rigidity and flexibility in the Southern social order, fed into the process of social change when the Freedom Movement decided to smash the caste system. 12 As Davis' former research assistant and a person who feels stroDgly that Deep South has not been given the attention which it ought to have had, I want to point out that Davis has been criticized by some for not being deeply rooted in the black community. I like to remember that he could have spent his life working on nineteenth-century English literature. But he didn't. H e made his commitment in terms of choice of problem, and if he never walked a picket line,, if he never signed anything for the N.A.A.C.P., I would argue that Davis made a definite commitment and that his commitment has'had its value in social'change. His publication list is proof. 13 The black scholar, of whatever type, has an integral role in the pattern of -ongoing social change. Only history can judge how important a role it is, or will become. If an individual scholar is moving in such a way as to impede black liberation, the community should hold him accountable for it. But a role exists for all of us: scholars in the study as well as actors in the street. Martin and Malcolm, W.E.B. DuBois and Whitney Young are dead, as are Charles S. Johnson, Carter G. Woodson, and E. Franklin Frazier. For them, as well as for us who survive, I'd like to dedicate these lines: In us some surging elemental power— We focus freedom's rays into a beam: Illuminate the destined hour And justify the dreamer's dream." 12 Allison Davis has commented on these changes in an appendix to a paperback version of Deep South (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965). 13 The commitment revealed in choice of problem comes out clearly in the topic he chose when invited to give the Inglis Lecture at Harvard: "Social Class Influences upon Learning," Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1948. He certainly struck a blow for all of the disadvantaged when he stimulated some of his students at the University of Chicago to challenge the validity of all existing I.Q. tests by carefully designed research. Their work was published as: Kenneth Eells, et al„ under the chairmanship of Allison Davis. Intelligence and Cultural Differences: A Study of Cultural Learning and Problem Solving, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951). See also Allison Davis and Robert Hess, Relationship Between Achievement in High School, College, and Occupation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963). 14 A search of issues of Crisis and Opportunity for the late twenties and early thirties will reveal that Allison Davis once expressed himself in verse as well as prose. We, his young admirers, sometimes followed him in those experiments. I wrote these four lines during the Spanish Civil War, but when the poem in which they appeared was published it was dedicated to Carter Woodson, Charles Houston, and Charles Drew, who had recently died [St. Clair Drake, "Freedom Fighters," Phyion, A Review of Race and Culture, Fall, 1950).


•^"•JM". • "i p.,]HM UUMU^*j

Statement of to the


C o m m o n w e a l t h

Literature a n d L a n g u a g e

C o n f e r e n c e

M o n a , January,


The following document was issued toward the end of the Commonwealth Literature and Language Conference held in Mono, Jamaica, West Indies, in January, 1973. The conference brought together nearly 100 black and white academicians, many of whom held traditional views of their field of scholarship and did not question the political meaning of cultural identity, or the role of folk culture in the development of new conceptions of literature. The statement was written by a group of West Indian and black American scholars to counter the traditional views. It represents a fundamental political clash between European-oriented scholars who held to a position of "literature for literature's sake," and scholars, including those from the Institute of the Black World, who believed otherwise.

This conference, unlike any other gathering of its sort which has gone before, began with a m o s t noteworthy quality. West Indians—writers, students, critics, intellectuals—had come to this conference with a new seriousness to insist on our literature and art as a sovereign part of our being. This was not a conference on political science, economic planning, or social theory. It was a conference on literature and West Indian society. The day when such a conference generates such tensions and energies in the Caribbean is a New Day, for we have come to claim ourselves in our literature, and for that task new concerns, new conceptions,- and new traditions are necessary. This conference in no way conceived its responsibility as one of elaborating on the West Indian literary and artistic experience and its consciousness. Topics such as "The Function of the Writer," "The Novel and History," etc., are the false universals with which we in the West Indies have now broken. We now are concerned with the development of new critical standards; the history and function of cultural censorship; the basis and terms 55

of the folk artistic sensibility; African influences and continuities as the subject of new literary explorations; the employment of new modes of literary expression through oral resources embedded in the language; the function of the press, radio; and television in the dissemination of literature and art; and the field of publishing and distribution of literary works in the region. It is significant that a West Indian publisher like John La Rose of New Beacon Publications, Ltd.—a man who as poet, man of letters, broadcaster, and organizer played a major role in the evolution of the Caribbean Artists' Movement and in providing a forum for the dissemination of ideas and opinions about West Indian writing—was only offered one third of the very expensive fare from London. On the other hand, there were a large number of delegates who were like deadwood. They made no contribution whatsoever, although some were fully competent to do so. This could scarcely be attributed to the polarities the conference w a s taking, since any clear statement of position could have modified these polarities and thus helped shape the direction which the conference as a whole was taking. One possible conclusion was that a number of people were present simply as plunderers of the newly emerging West Indian consciousness, as nep-mercantilists. The very structure of the conference programme seemed designed to block any serious contemplation of West Indian literature and society. What was felt throughout the conference as the hostility of West Indians to their hosts, local and overseas, was in fact a response to the very uncooperative character of their initial designs, and the difficulty imposed by the very structure of the conference in getting to our real concerns. A conference such as this, to have been successful, should have devoted much more preparatory effort to carefully projecting the real needs of West Indian literature in today's West Indian society. But, of course, the closed, private nature of this gathering safely insulated the delegates from the new reality of the West Indies, and from the fact that our literature and art are essential ingredients of our search for the roots and branches of a new West Indian wholeness. But much more was at stake than a question of mere topics for discussion. What were to be the real referents for the discussion? This question underlay more, profoundly than anything else the dismay which so many experienced at witnessing the return of West Indian literature and art to its proper context, namely the life of the people. The conference was convened mainly to consider West Indian literature and society. The programme was arranged along conventional academic 56


Statement to Commonwealth Coherence ST. CLAIR DRAKE

lines. But, from the first session West Indians spoke of concerns which were unexpected at an academic literary conference. West Indian speakers have continued to debate these issues in a serious search for clarification and new directions. As a result m a n y ' a r e puzzled, distressed, even resentful. What has happened and why? It is obvious from the programme that [the planners] intended to discuss West .Indian literature and society in traditional critical terms. But West Indian literature and society pose urgent questions which many West Indian writers, intellectuals, and common readers know can only be answered by the use of a wider range of economic, political, social, and linguistic facts and theories than academic critics traditionally use. What happened, then, w a s that a number of delegates, including certain of the main speakers, used the conventional framework to discuss these urgencies. The result w a s a breaking of the mold of conventional English literary criticism, and a sharp division among the handful of delegates who did contribute. Some identified with the old tradition, others with an alternative tradition which was always there but is only now beginning to gain recognition. Thus the conference became a confrontation which had political, economic, social, and cultural dimensions, with serious ramifications for the problems of Caribbean society. It began by an exploration of the problems of reconstruction in a multi-directional society whose basic cultural matrix is, for the most part, African. Brathwaite 1 examined the vast violation of consciousness which European members, of what is now called the Common-: wealth, perpetrated against peoples of African descent. He saw the role of the creative artist as an exploration of the true self of the colonized African. This, he indicated, could be done by exploring the religion, language, music, and other creative forms of the hitherto dispossessed African. Each race and group in the West Indies needs to explore its own past and self before the multi-racial society reaches the agenda as something more than myth. Implicit in Brathwaite's talk Was a conception of culture which undermined traditional Western notions. He stressed the historical violation of Black by white, and rejected sentimental notions both of racial harmony in the West Indies and of cultural and political agreement within the Com1 Edward Brathwaite, noted West Indian poet, literary critic, and historian; author of the poetic trilogy Rights of Passage (1967), Islands (1968). and Masks (1989) [Oxford, U. K.: Oxford University Press), and the historical study The Development, of Creole Society in Jamaica 1770-1820 (Oxford, U. K.: Oxford University Press, 1972), among other works.


monwealth. Vidia N a i p a u l V "reply" to Brathwaite was a restatement of his own,alienated position: West Indian* society w a s a sterile and destitute void in which even the act of creative writing is absurd. The articulate writer is educated above his society and has to leave. To talk about the folk, the people, the need to explore and reconstruct a new wholeness out of this past is to Be sentimental. The artist can do little more than describe his relationship to the void. These.two positions are stated in some detail because, in extreme ways, they indicate the broad lines along which the conference moved. West Indians seriously involved in their society rejected both Naipaul's despair and his refuge in what he claimed was his "superior" Euro-centered education. Significantly, most of the comment was directed to, and generally against, Naipaul; but Naipaul was not the issue. The issue was the tension between the believers in the "great tradition" and the searchers for an alternative tradition which is profoundly Afro-centric. The rest of the conference contained the same tension. Richard Allsopp's 3 paper, for example, showed how assumptions about the inferiority of Creole,the basic Africanized folk of the Caribbean—assumptions based on the colonizer's theories of relevance—were responsible" for the maiming of consciousness and the undermining of self-confidence and spiritual integrity in the Caribbean. Discussion on African oral traditions further reinforced the new movement, since this came close to showing the irrelevance of much of the critical methodology of the colonizer. Then Sylvia Wynter 4 gave the polarities a philosophical dimension and placed the whole d e b a t e i n a universalist context. She traced the nature of the decadence of Western civilization and posed the polarities not in terms of black and white, but of exploiter and exploited; proprietor and peasant, plantation and plot; mercantilist and humanist values. She showed us that what we were talking about all the time, in the opposition of Africa to Europe, of New World to Old, of folk culture to museum-kuJtur, w a s the possibility of a new man, a new people, and a new humanism emerging from these humanly rich societies. 2 V. S. Naipaul, Trinidadian novelist and man of letters, author of many works including FJag on the Island (New York: Macmillan, 1968); In a Free State (New York: Knopf. 1971); Loss of El Dorado (New York: Knopf, 2970); Mimic Men (New York: Macmillan, 1967); and Mystic Masseur (New York: Vanguard, 1959). 1 Richard Allsopp, a linguist who teaches at the University of the West Indies (Barbados], and who has written extensively on West Indian folk language. * Sylvia Wynter, Jamaican playwright, actress, historian, and linguist; author of The Hills of Hebron (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1962), and of numerous articles in West Indian scholarly journals. 58









Man's ideas about education change with his ideas about himself—change, that is, with his condition of freedom. Colonial education, whether of the European or American variety, exists to serve the interests of the colonizer, to limit,the parameters of freedom and to bind the borders of the spirit. Therefore, any people struggling for liberation is forced to educate itself anew. This necessity is the same wherever colonized peoples reside: in the Americas, Africa, or Asia. Understandably enough, it is the manifest demise of traditional public education in America which has finally subverted the ubiquitous myth of its superiority. Writing in witness to this process. Dr. Grace Boggs reviews and analyzes the historical'role of public education in AmericQ. Her description fand prescription), though nearly four years old at this printing, are still timely today. Next Dr. Walter Rodney reviews the organic role of education in precolonial Africa. He describes the destructive effects of colonial education, and reflects upon the new educational problems faced by African societies in the "post-independence" phase. The internal difficulties which Rodney alludes to are then elaborated upon, in wonder/ulJy honest detail, by Julius Nyerere, President of the Republic of Tanzania. If the problems are significant, the honesty with which they are confronted is the best hope for their eventual solution. Lastly, the universal need to reconnect education to life and work, called for by Nyerere, is shown to be the essential healing methodology used in the liberated zones of South Vietnam and in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. These four essays.give testimony to the fact that wherever education is alien to man, that education is divorced from humane life and transformative social purpose. Together they challenge us to struggle for a new education and a new world. 59





Education: T h e Great


Education; The Great Obsession was originally delivered in the fall of 1969 at the University Center for Adult Education, Wayne State University, Michigan, as part of a lecture series entitled ChaJJenge of the Seventies. It was published in Monthly Review in September, 1970, and is reprinted in an edited version by permission of the author and Monthly Review Press.

Education today is a great obsession. It is also a great necessity. We, all of us, black and white, yellow and brown, young and old, men and women, workers and intellectuals, have a great deal to learn about ourselves and about the rapidly changing world in which we live. We, all of us, are far from having either the wisdom or the skills that are now more than ever required to govern ourselves and to administer things. In the present struggle for a new system of education to fulfill this pressing need, the black community is in the forefront because it is the black community which the present educational system has most decisively failed. H o w It D e v e l o p e d Because the present school system is so huge and so resistant to change, we tend to think that it has existed forever. Actually it is only about two generAbout the Author: Grace Lee Boggs, of Chinese-American heritage, was educated at Barnard and Bryn Mawr (Ph.D.). A participant in the Freedom Movement for many years, she has been continuously active in the struggle for community control of schools. Ms. Boggs resides in Detroit, Michigan, where she has taught in the public schools and organized numerous community struggles and conferences. With her husband, James Boggs, she has co-authored a number of books and articles. Their latest book, Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth Century, will be published by Monthly Review Press in 1974. Copyright © 1974 Grace Lee Boggs. This article and a program for implementation is available in pamphlet form under the title: "Education to Govern: Philosophy and Program for Learning Now." Copies are 50C and can be obtained from Advocators, P.O. Box 07249, Gratiot Station, Detroit, Michigan 48207.


ations old. In nineteenth-century America (and in Western Europe until the end of the Second World War), the school system w a s organized to prepare the children of the wellborn and well-to-do to govern over the less wellborn and not so well-to-do. Thus, at the turn of the century only six per cent of U.S. youth graduated from high school. Early in this century the mass public school system was developed to assimilate an essentially immigrant working population into the economic, social, and political structure of the American Way of Life. According to-this Way, known as American Democracy, those closest to the Founding Fathers in background and culture rule over those who have the furthest to go in achieving this ultimate goal and who meanwhile need to be inculcated with a Founding-Father complex. To accomplish this objective the schools were organized: —to give the children of workers elementary skills in the three R's which would enable them to function as workers in an industrial society; —to give these children proper reverence for the four A's: American,History, American Technology, the American Free Enterprise .System, and American Democracy; and —to provide a smoothly functioning sifting-mechanism whereby, as Colin Greer has phrased it, the "winners" could automatically be sorted from the "losers" 1 ; that is to say, whereby those individuals equipped by family background and personality to finish high school and go on to college could be selected out from among the great majority on their way to the labor market after a few years of elementary school, or at most a year or so of high school. This automatic separator worked quite well during the first half of this century. It was acceptable to the European immigrants whose children constituted the core of the urban school population and who, in appreciation for the opportunity to come to the Land of Opportunism, felt the responsibility was theirs to become integrated or assimilated into the American Way of Life. Proceeding from this premise, working-class children of Eastern and Southern European stock (the "losers") dropped out of school quietly around the age of fourteen or fifteen, while the exceptions or "winners," usually those of WASP or Northern European stock, finished high school in preparation for college, which would qualify them to become doctors or 1 Golin Greer, "Public Schools: Myth of the Melting Pot," Saturday Review, 52 (November 15, 1969), pp. 84-86.


Education: The Great Obsession GRACE LEE BOGGS

lawyers or engineers or teachers. The high school curriculum and staff were set up on the basis of this implicit stratification. With such elite, highly motivated students, the high school teacher had only to know his subject well enough and drill it deep enough into the heads of students so that they could feed it back on college-entrance exams. Thus in 1911 only eleven per cent of the high-school-age population w a s in school, and in 1920 only twenty per cent. Not until 1930 did the number reach the relatively mass proportion of fifty-one per cent. 2 During the thirties, with the shrinking of the unskilled and child labor market, some kinks began to develop in this automatic sorting mechanism. But these were ironed out temporarily when the high schools expanded their skills curriculum to-meet the needs of an increasingly technical society, including such subjects as typing and shop, and simultaneously put greater emphasis on basketball and football in which the children of workers could excel and develop enough sense of belonging not to upset the applecart. By 1940, seventy-three per cent of high-school-age youngsters, hopeful of gaining higher skills and thus escaping the back-breaking, insecure jobs of their blue-collar parents, were attending high school. Those who dropped out before graduation—which for the last thirty years has averaged approximately one-half of all those entering ninth grade and at least two.-thirds of black youth—could, if they were white, still find such useful jobs as delivery or stock boys, or helpers of various kinds in the many small businesses which still existed, thus adding to the family income. Or they could just make themselves useful around the house doing the chores not yet outmoded by labor-saving devices. During the w a r years, with up to twelve million Americans in the-armed services, there were jobs aplenty for their younger brothers and sisters. It w a s not until after the Second World War, and particularly in the 50's and 60's, that the American school system began to find itself in deep trouble! The Andy Hardy world of the 30's w a s disappearing. Mechanization of agriculture and wartime work had brought millions of families to the cities from the farms and from the South, including Blacks and Appalachian whites who had heretofore been getting their education catch-as-catch-can. With the automation of industry following the Second World War and the Korean War, the swallowing up of small family businesses by big firms, and the widespread use of labor-saving appliances in the average home, the la1 James Coleman, Adolescents and the Schools [New York: Basic Books, 1985), p. 7. 63

** t^rti

bor of the dropout teenager became surplus and the adolescent became highly-visible. .


What now should be done with these "losers"? The obvious solution w a s to keep them in school. Thus, instead of the high schools acting as automatic sifters to sort out the "losers," they were turned into mass custodial institutions to keep everyone in the classroom and off the streets. If at the same time some could also be trained for white-collar jobs, that w a s a fringe benefit. For the great majority in the high schools, skills training played the same supplementary role that it plays in a juvenile detention home. By 1960, ninety per cent of high-school-age youngsters were attending school. From a relatively elite institution for the college-bound, the high school has been transformed within forty years into a mass detention home. The ideal teacher is no longer the college-entrance-exam-oriented pedagogue. He is either the counselor-type who can persuade the average youngster to adjust to this detention or the tough authoritarian who can force it down his throat. Since "winners" and "losers" are expected to stay in school until graduation, the high school diploma is no longer a sign of academic achievement but of the youngster's seat-warming endurance over a twelveyear period. The success of the public school system itself is now measured in terms of its efficiency in persuading, (or compelling) youth to extend their schooling indefinitely, if possible not only through high school but on to junior college, with each higher institution acting as a remedial program for the lower.

a i

Meanwhile, to sell the public on the new custodial role of the schools, the myths of education as the magic weapon to open all doors, particularly the door to higher earnings and unlimited consumption, and of the schools as the only place to get an education, have been propagated. Extended schooling has been made into an American obsession. As a number of observers have noted, faith in education has replaced faith in the church as the salvation of the masses. In the practice of this faith, education has become the nation's second largest industry, expending u p w a r d s of fifty billion dollars a year. The professional educator has become the new religion's practicing clergy, constituting the country's largest occupational grouping. At the same time, in order to distract and placate the detainees and to create an outlet for the goods pouring^off American assembly lines, the youth market has been created.


_.__.;;'.._.... -:-J?3.~

Education.: The Great Obsession GRACE LEE BOGGS

The Internal Contradiction Exposed The internal contradiction between the traditional separator and the new mass custodial roles assigned to the schools w a s bound to lead to conflict and disintegration: and this, in fact, is w h a t has been taking place over the past twenty years. The black revolt has only brought out into the open and given focus to the mushrooming tensions between elite and average students, and between students and teachers, which first manifested themselves on a city-wide scale in the New York City strike of predominantly white high school students in 1950. No one knows these tensions better than the school teachers and administrators, white and black. But because they have a vested interest in the system, they have, for the most part, been willing to settle for higher (i.e., combat) pay and better working conditions, such as smaller classes and more preparation time. To achieve these demands teacher organizations have, to some extent, met the economic or class needs of teachers as workers. But the more teachers have gained as workers the less they have felt inclined to expose the bankruptcy of the educational system and to make fundamental proposals for its reorganization. They have made the fatal mistake of confusing their role as a special kind of worker engaged in the process of developing human beings with the role of production workers engaged in the process of producing inanimate goods. It has thus been left to the black community to expose the fundamental contradictions within the system.

The Black Revolt Prior to the Second World War black youth had been concentrated in the South, not only separate and unequal but practically invisible. With the war a whole generation came North to work in the plants. With rising expectations whetted by relatively stable employment, service in the armed forces, and the postwar nationalist movements in other parts of the world, black parents began to send their children to school in such numbers that black youth now constitute the major part of the school population in most of the big cities from'which whites have fled. But the more black kids finished high school the more they discovered that extended education w a s not the magic key to upward mobility and higher earnings that it had been played up to be.



On the job market they soon discovered that the same piece of paper which qualified white high school graduates for white-collar jobs only qualified Blacks to be tested (and found wanting) for these same jobs. Their teachers, parents, and preachers tried to placate them by explaining how even more education w a s now needed to qualify for the increasingly skilled jobs demanded by automation. But all around them black youth could see that the jobs which they were told required, two or more years of college when occupied by Blacks were actually being done by white highschool dropouts. Accepting at face value the myths about education, black parents began to turn their attention to the schools, only to discover that instead of being places of learning, the schools had become baby-sitting institutions in which their children had been socially promoted year after year, regardless of achievement levels as determined by the schools' own tests. When school administrators and teachers were challenged to explain this situation, they tried to explain away their own failure by.shifting the blame to black children. Hence the theories of the "culturally deprived" and "culturally disadvantaged" child which have been masquerading as sociological theory since the 50's. In effect, these educators were saying: "There is nothing wrong with the system; only the wrong children have shown up." Through these alibis the professionals not only hoped to divert the attack back to the black community; they also hoped tQ hustle more money for themselves in the form of compensatory, remedial, more effective school programs. But the defense has boomeranged. Forced to defend themselves and their children against the thinly disguised racism of the theory of "cultural deprivation," black parents and the black community have counterattacked. They have exposed the racism of school personnel and school curriculum, the unceasing destruction by the schools of the self-concept of black children so necessary to learning, and the illegitimacy of a system administered by whites when the majority of students are now black. From early demands for integration, the movement jumped quickly to demands for black history, black teachers, black principals, and then, in 1966, with the rising tide of Black Power, to demands for control of schools by the black community, beginning with the struggle over Harlem I.S. 201 in December of that year.


Education: The Great Obsession GRACE LEE BOGGS


S t r u g g l e for C o n t r o l During the next five to fifteen years the black community is going to be engaged in a continuing struggle for control of its schools. Sometimes the struggle will be in the. headlines and on the picket lines, as in Ocean HillBrownsville in 1968. Sometimes it will be less dramatic. But the black community is now unalterably convinced that white control of black schools is destroying black children and can no longer be tolerated. During the next five to fifteen years the black community will also be redefining education for this day, this age, and this country. The overwhelming majority of black-students who are not succeeding in the present school system (estimated by New York teachers union president Albert Shanker at eighty-five percent) have in fact'rejected a used, outmoded school system. Over the past ten years literally billions of dollars have been injepted into the schools all over the country—even more than has gone into the moon race—in an attempt to make the system work. In New York City alone the school budget w a s raised 200 percent to more than one billion dollars a year, or one-third of the entire city budget. The New York teacher-pupil ratio w a s lowered to an average of 1:17; seventy'million dollars of Title I money w a s poured into the organization of 2,000 innovative projects; experts from the twelve colleges in the area were consulted and consulted; money w a s spent like water; book publishers, project directors, educational consultants were enriched and teachers drew, bigger salaries to compensate them for the nightmare of the school day. But the achievement level of black children has. continued to fall. The black community cannot afford to waste time fighting for reforms that have already proved worthless. Every week, every month, every year that we waste means that more black children are being wasted. We must reject the racist myth that by keeping kids in school an extra day, an extra week, an extra month, we are giving them a chance to learn a little something or helping to keep them out of mischief. Not only are they not learning in the schools, but the schools in the black community today are little more than mass penal institutions, breeding the same kind of vice and crime that mass, penal institutions breed, making the average child an easy prey for the most hardened elements. Day after day, year after year, the will and incentive to


learn, which are essential to the continued progress and future development of any people, are being systematically destroyed in millions of black youth, perhaps the most vigorous arid resourceful of those between the age^ of ten and twenty. Redefining E d u c a t i o n The key to the new system'of education that is the objective of the black movement for community control of schools is contained in the position paper of the Five-State Organizing Committee which w a s formed at a conference at Harvard University in January, 1968. At this conference the black educators and community representatives agreed that "the /unction of education must be redefined to make it responsive and accountable to the community." The schools today are in the black community but not of it. They are not responsive or accountable to it. If anything they are an enemy force, a Trojan Horse, within it. The teaching and administrative staff come from outside-the community, bringing with them the missionary attitude that they are bearing culture to backward natives—when in fact, like missionaries, they are living off the natives. The subject matter of the schools, beginning with the information about the policeman and the fireman given to first and second graders, is alien to the lives of the children. And, most important, students succeed only to the degree that they set their sights toward upgrading themselves as individuals out of the community, so that the'schools are in fact an organized instrument for a brain drain out of the community. American education, like American society, is based upon the philosophy of individualism. According to this philosophy, the ambitious individual of average or above-average ability from the lower and middle classes is constantly encouraged to climb up the social ladder out of his social class and community. To achieve this goal, like the black Englishman in colonial Africa, he must conduct himself in ways that meet the approval and social standards of those in power, that is to say, as much unlike those in his community and as much like those'in the Establishment as possible. If he does this consistently to the satisfaction of those in power, who are always observing and grading his behavior, he is' rewarded by promotion and advancement into the higher echelons of the system. This is what is known as "making it on your own." The more opportunistic you are, the better your chance of "making it."


Education: The Great Obsession GRACE LEE BOGGS

In the school system this means relating to the teacher and not to your classmates. It means accepting what is taught you as the "objective" or "gospel" or "immaculately conceived" truth which stares at you out of the pages of the textbook. (The textbook itself, of course, is by its very weight and format, organized to convey the impression of permanence and the indubitability of Holy Scripture.) You then feed these truths back to the teacher ("the correct answer"), evading controversial questions which require thinking for yourself or taking a position. If you are willing to do this year after year, giving the "correct answers" on exam after exam, for as long as is necessary to satisfy the "guild" standards of the Establishment, you "have 'it made." You have proved yourself a sheep as distinguished from the goats. Your parents are proud of you. You can buy a big car to show off before the neighbors, and you become eligible to share in the benefits of high-level corruption in its various forms. The overwhelming majority of black youth see no relationship between this type of education and their daily lives in the community or the problems of today's world which affect them so intimately. They see automation and cybernation wiping out the jobs for which they are supposedly being prepared—while such jobs as are still available to them are the leftovers that whites won't take (including fighting on the front lines of Vietnam). The book-learning so honored by their teachers and parents seems dull and static compared to what they see on TV and experience on the streets. In th'eir own short lives they have seen what passes as truth in books being transformed into lies or obsolescence by living history, and what passes as objectivity exposed as racist propaganda. Through TV they have discovered that behind the words are human beings, usually white, usually well-off, and usually pompous intellectuals. The result is that as the teacher stands up front bestowing textbook culture on them, they are usually 'carrying on a silent argument with him—or else turning^off their minds altogether. Not having the drive to succeed in "the man's" world at all costs, which is characteristic of the ambitious opportunist, and much more sensitive to 'what is going on around them, they reject the perspective of interminable schooling without practice or application, which is now built into the educational system. Beseiged o n a l l sides by commercials urging them to consume without limit and conscious at the same time of the limitless productivity of American technology, they have abandoned the Protestant ethic of work and thrift. So they roam the streets, aimlessly, restlessly, potential victims of organized crime and potential hustlers against their own community. 69

O n l y O n e S i d e Is R i g h t There are two sides to every question, but only one side is right. In this case, the students who have rejected the present system are the ones who are right, even if, understandably, they are unable as yet to propose concrete alternatives. They are right because they have penetrated the traditional concepts that have governed American education for centuries. We, like them, must face the facts: 1. The individualist, opportunist orientation of American education has been ruinous to the American community and most obviously, of course, to the black community. In the classroom over the years it isolates children from one another, stifling their natural curiosity about one another as well as their potential for working together. (This process is what the education courses call "socialization.") In the end it not only upgrades out of the community those individuals who might be its natural leaders, fragmenting and weakening precisely those communities which are in the greatest need of strengthening. It also creates the "used" community which is to be successively inherited by those poorer or darker in color, and which is therefore doomed from the outset to increasing deterioration. 2. Truth is not something you get from books or jot down when the teacher holds forth. It has always been and is today more than ever something which is constantly being created through conflict in the social arena and continuing research and experimentation in the scientific arena. 3. Learning, especially in this age of rapid social and technical change, is not something you can make people do in their heads with the perspective that years from now, eventually, they will be able to use what they have stored up. By the time you are supposed to use it, ,it has really become "used." The natural relationship between theory and practice has been turned upside down in the* schools, in order to keep kids off the labor market. The natural way to learn is to "be interested first and then to develop the skill to pursue your interest. As John Holt has written, "The sensible way, the best way, is to start with something worth doing, and then, moved by a strong desire to do it, get whatever skills are needed." 3 A human being, young or old, is not a warehouse of information or skills, and an educational system which treats children like warehouses is not only depriving them of education but crippling their natural capacity to learn. Particularly in a world of rapidly changing information and skills, learning how to learn is more important than learning specific skills and facts. A 3


How Children Learn [New York: Pitman, 19^0), p. 112.

Education: The Great Obsession GRACE LEE BOGGS

.human being cannot develop only as a consumer. Depriving children of the opportunity to carry on productive activity is also depriving them of the opportunity to develop the instinct for workmanship which has made it possible for man to advance through the ages. The experience of performance is necessary to learning. Only through doing things and evaluating what they have done can human beings-learn the intrinsic relation between cause and effect, thereby developing the capacity to reason. If they are prevented from learning the intrinsic consequences of their own choices of ends and means and made totally dependent on such extrinsic effects as rewards and punishments, they are being robbed of their right to develop into reasoning human beings. 4. Finally, you cannot deprive young people of the rights of social responsibility and-social consciousness, the ability to judge social issues during the many years they are supposed to attend school, and then expect them suddenly to be able to exercise these essential rights when they become adult. Our children are not learning because the present system is depriving them of such natural stimuli to learning as exercising their resourcefulness to solve the real problems of their own communities; working together rather than competitively, with younger children emulating older ones and older children teaching younger ones; experiencing the intrinsic consequences of their own-actions; judging issues. It is because the present^ system wastes these natural human incentives to learning that its demands on the taxpayer are constantly escalating. It is because those who have succeeded under the present system have ended up, as such dehumanized beings—technicians and mandarins ready to provide so-called objective skills and information to those in power—that students are in revolt on secondary school and college campuses. Towards a New System We should now be in a better position to redefine the function of education in order to make it responsive and accountable to the community, and to outline the essential ingredients of a new system of education. 1. Education must be based on a philosophy of history In order to realize his or her highest potential as a human being, every young person must be given a profound and'continuing sense (a) of his or her own life as an integral part of the continuing evolution of the human species; and 71

(b) of the unique capacity of human beings to shape and create reality in accordance with conscious purposes and plans. The historical past is not an accumulation of facts. It is the continuing drama of the human species. Animals struggle to survive from one day to the next. Human beings have the unique capacity to strive consciously in order to transcend the past and to create a new and better future in which people will live and transform themselves and their environments in accordance with ever-higher and more universal standards of creative excellence and social responsibility. A meaningful sense of identity with the past and future of humanity cannot be achieved simply by reading about the past. Ways and means must be created by educators to give young people the opportunities to relive the past, for example, through dramatic reproductions of the practical and intellectual activities of our precursors in the evolution of Mankind and of the conflicts and great leaps in intellectual and practical creativity which have always been necessary to advance humanity. By reliving the struggles and the leaps by which we have reached the present stage in human history, young people are given the impetus to continue these struggles for increased political consciousness and social responsibility, for expanded social being, and for continuing practical and intellectual creativity. 2. Education must include clearly defined goals Education is not just living and learning. A new system of education must be governed by a new philosophy of education which clearly defines the purpose of education. At this stage, militant struggles over education which are not governed both by a fundamental understanding of the historic role of the present educational system in U.S. society and by a vision of a new role for education, will be productive chiefly of continuing demoralization, desperation, and, therefore, destruction of young people. Education in the United States can no longer be for the purpose of earning or for achieving the "goods life" or for fitting people into the framework of our present industrial society. Education must now be for the purpose of governing, that is, for the purpose of changing society and for changing ourselves simultaneously. Within this new overall purpose, a new system of education must contain clear goals for each age group in terms of increased knowledge, consciousness, and skills. Figure 1 gives only an indication of what these goals might


Education: The Great Obsession GRACE LEE BOGGS

be. The smallest circle in ,he center contains a c u r r i c u l a , t a children aged 5-9; the next ^ ^ ^ S ^ j S t tV,p larppst circle for the young adult, 15-18. w e a r cui guschools, prisons, and community groups to give people a politically informed, historically accurate, black interpretation of current events. The Black-World-View column has been distributed to thirty black newspapers and- journals across the country and has been used by several black radio stations. The Black Papers, a series of essays in pamphlet form on black hisfory,, literature,, etc., are presented not as an alternative to white scholarship on these selected subjects, but as its replacement. The series has been published under our joint publishing program with Third World Press in Chicago. The three papers now available- are Beyond Chaos, by Vincent Harding; How I wrote JUBILEEt by Margaret Walker; and The .Redemption of Africa and Black Religion, by St. Clair Drake. The first Black Paper, one by, Lerone Bennett, Jr;, JLs currently out of stock. Originally published as The Challenge of Blackness, it will be reissued soon in a new form. Also coming is a study of slavery and identity by Sylvia .Wynter, entitled Natives in a New, World. We have widened our contact with the black community through works published in black journals. These have included articles by IBW staff members in the May and October 1972 issues of Black World, the Summer 1972 issue of Encore magazine, and the Winter 1972 edition of Black Books Bulletin. We have also acted as consultants in the preparation of feature articles which have appeared in Ebony Magazine". William Morrow & Co. has published one of a proposed series of ten books whichrwill carry both the IBW and Morrow imprint. The first one is Understanding the New Black Poetry, by S tephen Henderson. The author, one of the founders of IBW will be familiar to those interested in the development of Black Studies for his ideas ab out the saturation of a -curriculum with blackness. Currently director of Howard University's Institute of the Humanities, which is newly formed Steve deals in his new book with "Black Speech and Black Music as Poetic References" (or how we participate with our own "soul" in what our poets wr ite). The second in the IBW/Morrow IVincent Harding, "Our President's Trip to Peking," Black World, May, 1972; William Strickland, "The Gary Convention and the Crisis of American Politics," Black World, October, 1972; Robert A. Hill, "CounterPoint," Encore, Summer, 1972; Vincent Harding, "Black Reflections on the Cultural Ramifications of Black Identity," Black Books Bulletin, Winter, 1972. 149

M ^

series, a history of black struggle in the United States by Vincent Harding, will be published late this fall. Lecturing Further use of the media has been explored with local radio stations, and IBW staff members have appeared on three listener call-in shows and interviews. IBW was also featured in a thirty-minute discussion on local educational television about our work. Staff members have given lectures in a number of educational settings. Among them were William Strickland's presentation, "A Black Interpretation of the 1972 Elections," at the annual Center for African and AfricanAmerican Studies Conference in-Atlanta (December 6, 1972); Robert Hill's lecture, "Garvey and the Rise of Pan Africanism," at the University of Wisconsin (-November 13, 1972); and Vincent Harding's "When I Know Who I Am," at the Education and Teacher Education for Cultural Pluralism- Conference in Chicago (January 31, 1972), and "Role of the Black Scholar," at the University of Iowa (Summer 1972). Stimulating Study and Research Since our beginning, IBW has worked closely with students, educators, and others interested in developing ways of making education more relevant to black people. But we have also been steadily moving outward from academia toward the larger black community. In the academic area, IBW continued work on the Summer Research Symposium (SRS) of 1971.' In 1972 the Symposium consisted of on-site teacher training and preparation of the SRS materials for mass production so that they can be used by groups actively concerned with black education. One of the completed portions of SRS is ah educational package of audio and video tapes entitled "The Role of the Black Scholar and the Struggles of the Black Community." It includes presentations by St. Clair Drake, C.L.R. James, Vincent Harding, George Beckford, and Walter Rodney. So far these packets are being used by Black Studies departments at five universities. Our library of over 200 audiotaped lectures h'as proved useful so' far in providing the raw materials for research and publication, as Well as being used as an educational tool in their original form. Two have proved of great usefulness in meetings with visiting high school groups and with people who come to us for help in their work both in designing- curricula for black youth and in creating analytical materials on a popular 'level. One is a theoretical overview of educational development in post-colonial Tanzania by the Guyanese historian, Walter Rodney, and the other is a critique of a standard high school textbook in American history, by Vincent Harding. More information ab"out our plans to offer these tapes for public distribution will appear in future Monthly Reports. While maintaining working .relationships with strictly academic groups, IBW has also established contact with groups as varied as Protestant and Catholic black caucuses, prisoners' study groups, boys' and girls' clubs, housing-project education and recreation groups, many of whom never before saw themselves as definers of black education, but who have taken up such" work in order to ,fill a void. Our involvement with


them has not only been rewarding in its own right, but has also providedus with the opportunity to study possible cooperative work between the different kinds of groups who come to us.. These individuals and organizations have been introduced to the IBW perspective on the relation between black education and black struggle, and have been provided with overall principles to guide them in structuring a curriculum to fit their specific needs. Among others, they have included the Freedom Library Day School in Philadelphia (one of the oldest modern, independent black preschools), the Nairobi Community College in California, and the Black Studies Program at the Green-Haven Correctional Institution in New York. IBW also recently designed and conducted a three-week course in the newly established Amilcar Cabral Training Institute for IFCO (Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization). The trainees were black and Chicano. The training of Blacks and Chicanos for organizing their communities has raised exciting questions about the possibilities of forging real and practical links of cooperative work between the two groups. Black Politics and International Contacts Early in 1970, IBW initiated work on a "Black Agenda for the Seventies." Since that time we have continued to work on this task--with others—in various forms and situations. Most recently we were able to bring this perspective to the consultations which finally led to the National Black Political Convention in Gary last Spring. The work of two of our members., was incorporated *in to the convention's' Preamble and Black Agenda for political and economic empowerment, human development, and other major areas of black life. African and Caribbean scholars have been on the staff or close associates of the organization from the outset. Black people from all over the world are almost weekly visitors,. They are usually in search of information and orientation on the nature of our struggles in America, while we gain a better perspective on the worldwide liberation struggle from thenw These visits have led to exchange of, and referrals to, scholars^ activists, and organizations, and in several instances, tov the appearance of items in our Monthly Report. Among our visitors in 1972 were Bro. Mervyn Josie of S.A.S.O. (South African Student Organization); Sonny Leon of the Labour Party of South Africa; Muhammad Ahmad (Max Stanford)2; Clayton Riley,' black" film critic; and Le Ahn Tu of Vietnam. Another ^aspect of, bur interest^ in national liberation struggles is reflected in visits by IBW staff members to meet with Third World groups. In March of 1971, Vincent Harding met with a Vietnamese peace delegation in Paris. In 1972, William Strickland was Invited by'the Cuban government to visit Cuba as part of a black delegation which examined the progress of the revolution there. His observations will be reported in an article in a forthcoming issue of Black World. Summary A major part of our time and energy last year was spent on fund raising. We realize that this is one of the hazards of independent existence and we appreciate the financial help given to us by our contributors. Our


major challenge is to continue the present thrust of our work and to take it to its next logical stages. There is a need for us to make the results available in published form to more black people. We need ,to deepen our research in such subjects as black street rebellions, prison movements, social and economic betterment, and mass political action. And we need to reach everyone in the community who is struggling toward black liberation. Our challenge is to keep going forward. For further information on any of the above, please write to us. ^Black movement activist.

T h e A n a l y s i s of t h e I n s t i t u t e of t h e B l a c k W o r l d People in this country are fond of saying that there are two sides'to every story. What they neglect to mention is that only one side is right. By the light of America's "rightness," the black vision has always been askew. Yet that vision has gone marching on, becoming more irresistible with the passage of time. The IBW world-view is heir to that vision. We look out upon America as our forebears have before fls and see both old betrayals and new blossomings. The essence of our perspective is captured in the following two columns from our Monthly Report. They are the best answer we can give to the perennial question: What is a black socialanalys(s?

M O M T t t L V






January 24, 1972 RALPH BUNCHE: THE MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY When Dr. Ralph .Bunche died on December 3, 1971 he was acclaimed by the nation and the world; and when all the world praises a man there seems little left to say. As for us, though, while we were sometimes moved by t;he world's praise, we were not persuaded by it. We were especially hesitant to accept America's interpretation of the meaning of Ralph Bunche; for America has a way of embracing easily in death what it persistently disdains in life: a commitment to principle before .all else--a commitment which characterized the life of Ralph Bunche. The nation has tried this post-mortem embrace before. We remember America mourning for Martin Luther King, Jr., in April 1968, only to smash his Poor People's Campaign into the dust of the Washington Monument just two months later. We remember America making a false peace with Malcolm--its implacable foe--after he, too, was safely dead. So we conclude that we must go beyond America's deceptive praise of black men in order to. seek the true meaning of their lives.




Time magazine, for example, in its eulogy of Bunche, alleged that he was "a man without color." They portrayed him as a sort of black Horatio Alger, rising above adversity and racial prejudice to reach the summit of world acclaim. The obvious implication is that all Blacks can achieve "success" within the American system since Bunche did. (They need only to be orphaned at thirteen, be valedictorian of their high school-and then be denied admission to the high school's academic honor society. They must attend UCLA, star in three varsity sports, and make Phi Bet* Kappa. Then they must go on -to Harvard for masters and doctorate degrees, and follow those with advanced work in Europe and Africa.) Of course we see and know the lie: the point is that Bunche's record has only been duplicated by a few black men in history—academically, Woodson, DuBois, and Robeson come to mind--and by no white men that we know of. And none of these black men was able to escape the whiplash of American racism, in spite of their unique achievements. So we reject Time's distortion of Bunche, realizing that it is not Time's purpose to truly enlighten us. Rather, their purpose is to try to recast Bunche in their own image, to make him into "a white black man," to try to deflect us from a valid understanding of the man. But all they reveal is how little they knew him, and how much they are driven by their own sick need to defend an indefensible way of life, to make Bunche appear to support a system against which .his whole life -stood as a rebuke.. But Ralph Bunche knew who he was. He knew it in 1959 when, discriminated against by the West Side Tennis Club of. New York, he declared: "No Negro American can be free from the disabilities of race in this country until the lowliest Negro in Mississippi is no longer disadvantaged because of his race." As far back as 1935, while on the faculty of Howard University, he knew who he was, and what the true nature of things was between the races. For he said thenr "Throughout the world today, wherever whites and Blacks are present in any significant numbers in the same community, democracy becomes the tool of the dominant elements in the white population in their ruthless determination to keep the Blacks oppressed. This is true whether the Blacks constitute the overwhelming majority of the population, as in South Africa and Algeria, or the minority, as in the United States." Ralph Bunche knew who he was, and we must know what he means for us. Contrary to white propaganda, Ralph Bunche was not "a man without color," but a man without a country. The country which should have been his now has to conceal the truth of Ralph Bunche in order to conceal the truth about itself. And the truth is that everything Bunche stood for, America stood against. Bunche stood for peace, whereas his country stands for war; he stood for honesty, whereas his country stands for duplicity; he stood for justice, whereas his country stands for power; and he stood for mankind, while his country stands for race mastery. What also distinguishes Bunche from his country is the contrast between their notions of public service and responsibility, indeed their very notions of the nature of man. Bunche was a moral stranger in this immoral land, a prophet without honor, a man whose principles were rejected as a way of life by the land he so diligently tried to serve, but


B with which he could find no real common ground. So America exported Bunche to other pastures where his ideals would not prove a constant embarrassment to it, an obstacle to its running of the world. The meaning of Bunche's life, however, cannot be obscured, or defeated, by insincere tributes and historical side-stepping. He was a man whose fondest ideals could not be worked out in his native land, and who therefore turned to the larger world community as an arena of work, an arena more receptive to change and more respectful of his talents and gifts. In Africa, in the Middle East, in the UN, he worked for justice and humane peace. What Bunche was, therefore, he was in spite of America, not because of it. And what he did was not because he rose above race, but because he had the special insights of race, the knowledge of oppression which flames the black belief in the necessity for a better world. Because he was black, and for no other reason, Bunche sought to live out the ideals proclaimed by so many of his white fellow-citizens but pursued seriously by so few. Ralph Bunche was a man out of time and out of place with his country, a voyager cast adrift, beyond a land where Nixon and Agnew and Humphrey and Wallace are the nation's most natural leaders, and where the policies of hypocrisy, exploitation, war, and racism exist as the clearest reflection of the true spirit of the Republic.







December 3, 1971 BLACK REFLECTIONS ON 1971 As black people we face two temptations in our attempt to absorb the meaning of 1971. On the one hand, we are tempted not to look back at all, to move as if the past were not connected to the path ahead. On the other hand, we are also tempted to pass simple judgments, to throw out new slogans (or resurrect old ones) as an escape from the encounter with our reality--and America"s. It is our conviction at IBW that neither stance will„do. We consider it absolutely necessary to look as hard as we can at what black people have just been through, recognizing that we shall miss much, but looking and seeking nevertheless. Our search is guided by the words of one ofour African brothers, Amilcar Cabral, the leader of the revolutionary



movement in Guinea-Bissau. He warned us to "tell no lies and claim no easy victories." On the white side: The year 1971 was one in which America gave every sign of a society that has lost its way. Its military honor was exposed as baseless myth by My Lai, and the credibility of four of its Presidents was exploded by the disclosures x>f the Pentagon Papers. Its "free enterprise system" was so weakened by the pressures of rising inflation and rising unemployment that Nixon himself, the arch-defender of laissez-faire capitalism, was forced to intervene- in the economy to save it. .Internationally the nation which had vilified China for twenty-two years was forced by world realities to slip meekly (via Pakistan) into China's back door in order to court its favor; while on the world market the American dollar crumbled into dust. America's hallowed traditions and moral pretensions disintegrated on all sides in 1971. Convulsed and consumed by these developments, America spent 1971 groping for its moorings, trying to resurrect the old--now hopelessly bankrupt—purposes. In retrospect we are struck by the fact that on the national level, American white leadership had little real time to devote to black people. (Keeping us in our place, therefore, fell largely to local authority. The "big boys" were preoccupied with trying to save an empire.) Nixon epitomized this "benign neglect" by refusing in March even tomention black people in his address on the State of his Union. But, as so often happens, this insult, among others, helped to galvanize the Congressional Black Caucus to some prelininary sense of its responsibilities. The real meaning of the emergence of the Black Caucus, however, went far beyond the coming-together of the handful of black Congressmen and the lone Congresswoman. It represented a tendency toward independent black politics whose mass potential, if ever ignited, w8uld fundamentally alter the existing American political system. Fearful white political leaders apprehended this fact and redoubled their efforts to break up incipient black political power. That was the meaning of the redisricting and gerrymandering maneuvers in the land, the breaking up of black inner-city populations, and the movement toward "metropolitan" and "regional" government. That too was the meaning of the old-fashioned intimidation surrounding the November elections in Mississippi. But 1971 also reminded us that the deepest level of our struggle in America goes far beyond the comparative niceties of electoral politics. In ways dimly perceived by us at the time but clearly perceived by the white guardians of the land, the black freedom movement poses a fundamental threat to the natur'e of American society. There is no other way to explain the revelation of 1971 that while we were peacefully and non-violently marching and singing and petitioning for civil rights in the sixties, the "liberal" Kennedy and Johnson administrations were hastily erecting a national system of police surveillance to monitor the Movement, manned by the military and the FBI. More of America's resources were directed to spying on black folks than were directed, for instance, against organized crime—which tells us, rather eloquently, where the nation is at. So it has become clear once again that America is really against 1-Cabral was assassinated in Conakry, Guinea, in January, 1973. 155

black people, whether we advocate "integration" or "separation," F,or in either capacity we pose some threat to white interests. Still, as in every other year of our struggle, 1971 illustrated the basic futility of the attempts to contain and divert us from the struggle toward a new society. For we saw, if we looked closely, the black rebellion leap from the nation's streets and campuses to the military and the prisons. From Vietnam to Germany^to Fort Dix, New Jersey, black soldiers struck back at the racism in America's Imperial Army, often using against white officers in Vietnam the weapons and tactics they had been taught to employ only against America's "enemies." At home there was Attica and Soledad and San Quentin and a score of others. In these prisons where so many of our community were locked up, white power made its most comprehensive effort to deal with our exploslveness (short of extermination). Still black men and women rose up, revealing a force whose revolutionary potential struck many of us with awe, both at its bravery and at its indomitability--the persistent refusal of the black oppressed to be contained. We have already written on Attica. Let us simply note here that when we view the possibilities of linkages between Attica, and all it represented, with the brothers now returning from Vietnam (and other imperialist adventures) and with the best children of Malcolm and Martin and Fanon in the schools and in the streets, we-see the potential of a new powerful black movement ari^ing^. What we lack is the program and purpose to cement these separate parts into a new irresistible whole. But there is no other way for us to go now, for the truth is out. And the truth is that BLACK PEOPLE HAVE NO FUTURE OUTSIDE OF AMERICA NOR ANY FUTURE INSIDE AMERICA EXCEPT THAT WHICH WE MAKE. It is in this land where we must make our stand. That is the truth which ties black people together inside or outside of Attica, inside or outside of Vietnam, inside or outside of higher (or lower) education. But white America has always known this. It is black America that has not. That is why drugs have been loosed in torrents in our community and why ,we are currently being assailed with new popular anfi-struggle entertainment like Shaft and Cotton Comes to Harlem. For as long as we are "nodding" or singing and dancing or putting the pursuit of pleasure before the pursuit of freedom, we shall stay enslaved. On the black side: The year 1971 also- raised a troubling new obstacle to black unity. Throughout, black America the process of organizing was tremendously slowed by the reluctance of black people to venture out at night because of the pervasiveness of black crime in our communities. The temptations of easy living lured too many brothers (and sisters) into a life of antiblack crime. Thus preying on ourselves became a habit and a vocation in 1971. This contradiction is characteristic of oppressed peoples. Instead of mounting an attack on the society which has pushed us out of the economy and denied us any real means of livelihood,.we turn destructively upon ourselves. We fail to see the real issue: that there is no place for


black people as a whole within the American economy. Our historical role as agricultural and industrial servants has ended. We .are now simply a burden impatiently, antagonistically, temporarily tolerated by white America. The epidemic unemployment sweeping the black community stems precisely from the elimination of black people from productive roles in the society. As we have written elsewhere, "The historical contradiction of black labor is that it has never been permitted to work in its own behalf. Its enduring purpose has been the development of white America." Now, even this role is denied. Black people are not unemployed; they are non-employed, a new non-working class forced to victimize its own in order to survive. In its structural dimensions, then, the problem of black crime is tied to the problem of black unemployment, and the problem of black unemployment is tied to the racist-capitalist nature of the American economy. There is thus no solution to black unemployment through private industry. That is a proven myth. Only a government which restructures the economy, a government different from any America has ever seen, can cure the problem. (We shall have more to say on this score in our forthcoming column on the Black State of the Union.) For all the talk of black power, then, 1971 indicated that we were still a people hesitant to make a bid for real power, the power to define America anew. There was motion within our midst and much ideology, but not sufficient movement to new national purpose. Many black folks, for instance, were taken with Pan-Africanism, but when the coup in Uganda occurred and when the Portuguese invaded Guinea, there was little meaningful black response. Lacking an apparatus to mobilize and help ourselves, it is simply so much fantasy to talk of significantly helping others. If we can't help Mississippi, we can hardly help Mali or Mozambique. We cannot end our powerlessness by pretending that a black ideological movement is the same as a black liberation movement. Perhaps part of our problem of unfocused direction was due to a vacuum of leadership. From time to time an occasional march, an occasional press conference, an occasional law suit reminds us that much of the historical leadership of the sixties still exists, but history seems to have passed it by. When one speaks of the Urban League, of SNCC, of CORE, of SCLC, of the NAACP, it is almost as though speaking of ghosts, because the era of civil rights is over. Yet our movement, on the whole, has not moved forward with the times. We still rely too strongly on the strategies of the past, strategies no longer adequate to the present and future needs of black America. We cannot leave 1971 without commenting on the significance of the coming of China to the center of the world stage (just as America is receding, falling from grace as the world's master power). China symbolizes the non-white destiny whose time has come, an alternative to the American way. One that works. One that puts man before profit, and humanity before race. So China should have special significance for black people, should give us grounds for serious thought and realistic hope. Not romantic thoughts and foolish hopes about how they might help us fight our battles, but about what we can learn from their experiences in order to fight on our own. Finally, 1971 shows us that our battles, like China's, can be fought and won. In 1972, it will be up to us to compel the words "liberation struggle" to become flesh.





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BLACK ANALYSIS FORTHE SEVENTIES (19711972) is a collection of articles written by IBW staff for our Black-World-View editorial column between June and and December 1971. The articles, which analyze topical subjects from a black perspective, have been published in more than 20 newspapers across the country and distributed to thousands of black readers, both here and abroad, through our newsletter. Monthly Report. n Read individually, each of these penetrating editorials sheds new light on its respective theme: the Attica Rebellion, the Congressional Black Caucus, Louis Armstrong's death, the gradual disintegration of American society, etc. Taken collectively, however, they clarify our understanding of the many faces of the black freedom struggle that emerged during the'year 1971. Black Analysis, in a kaleidoscopic way, brings the pieces together to fit into an integrated whole-making 1971 relevant to our own times and beyond.











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