I am reading a book called At Mama’s Knee by April Ryan, a Black CNN news reporter assigned to the White House. In chapter six, she writes about United States Presidents and their relationship with the Black communities. First, she writes about President Truman and his Executive Order 9981. Truman in Executive Order 9981 desegregated the Armed Services.
With that order Truman established the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Forces. “The order committed the United States to completely integrate the Armed Forces. Then Black and White soldiers, naval personnel and the rest of the United States Military served together.
Ryan quotes Congressman James Clyburn in writing about this historical Presidential Order. Clyburn says, “Truman’s mother was not in tune with her son and did not agree with the Presidential order.” Clyburn also believes that Truman’s bold move accounts for his failure to
be named one of America’s greatest Presidents.
Clyburn cites the Presidential Order of another U.S. President that made history. That Order presented on January 31, 1863 said, “All persons held as slaves within any state or designated part of a state, the people whereof shall be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward and forever free.” This Proclamation
was the Emancipation Proclamation.
Ryan writes about President Regan calling Black women Welfare Queens, refusing to support the Martin Luther King national holiday, even though he was forced by circumstances to sign it. Regan opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and opposed the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Regan’s mother and father were, apparently, good practicing Christians. His Father was a Catholic, and his mother was a member of the Disciples of Christ.
Today while doing out in my back yard, I heard a woodpecker on a Telephone pole nearby. I watched the woodpecker for a while and then I saw something I had never seen before. There was another woodpecker working on a different part of the pole. My thoughts went to my father (now deceased) who used to tell me that two heads were better than one. He would always add, “even if one was a coconut.”
These two woodpeckers were working together toward a positive result, like Black Lives Matter, the NAACP, and other Pro-Black Rights movements. April Ryan, in her book, talks about Black unity like a famous anti-lynching march in New York called The Silent Protest Parade, in 1917, following a riot in East Saint Louis. Members of the Black elite joined that March, including James Weldon Johnson and Madame C. J. Walker.
The President at the time was Woodrow Wilson who would not even meet with Blacks publicly. A petition to make lynching a federal crime was presented to one of President Wilson’s underlings to give to him. The petition was ignored by Wilson who did not publicly oppose lynching. Wilson also promoted segregation in the military and government employment.
We have just lived through the Presidency of Barack Obama.
His mother didn’t live to see his presidency. We have the image of eight years of a Black man as President. Black America fared well as I see it. We can all use his presidency to tell our children they can do anything and be anything they put their minds to. As for today’s President we are all trying to survive until he’s gone. We know he discriminates. Many feel like he is not our President.