Obama, Lincoln and the Reformation of Black History

On the 10th day of this year's Black History Month, C-SPAN's coverage of the State of the Black Union conference was preempted in midbroadcast. The spotlight departed the Hampton University forum to journey to the site of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, IL where Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous house-divided anti-slavery speech in 1858.  Here, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) was about to employ a similar unity theme in announcing his quest to become the first black man in American history to make an earnest, rather than merely symbolic, run for the presidency.  While the imagery of the moment totally enraptured
the mainstream media, the stage 750 miles to the east was decidedly less giddy.

Before a crowd of between 15,000 and 17,000 shivering supporters, the freshman Senator from Illinois took full advantage of the political significance of the time (2 days before Lincoln's birthday) and the place of his historic speech.
"... in the shadow of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a house divided to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still live, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States of America."
Now, the stated theme of the Hampton, VA symposium was the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown Settlement and its historical significance to the slave trade.  With that in mind, one might expect Obama's effort to emulate and honor the "Great Emancipator" with these remarks to be well received there.   
"..through his will and his words, he moved a nation and helped free a people"
So, you may imagine the surprise the reaction from Rev. Al Sharpton evoked in this white byproduct of the NY public school system who had naïvely presumed that Lincoln was accepted as a hero by all Americans of color:
"I wish Obama had announced here ‘cause Lincoln did not free us - the abolitionist movement freed us.  Lincoln accommodated to freedom fighters, he was not a freedom fighter. We got to quit giving the wrong people credit for our history."
Heavy fare, indeed. But this would be only the beginning of the panel's black history revisionism and my consequent reeducation.  Lerone Bennett of Ebony Magazine repeated the theme of his batty book Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln's White Dream which paints Lincoln as a life-long white supremacist whose actual goal was the deportation of blacks back to Africa. According to Bennett, were it up to Lincoln, the black Senator would not be allowed to live in America, much less run for its highest office:
"The only emancipation plan Lincoln had was a constitutional amendment to deport the black people of this county. So it's ironic ... the American people ought to know that Abraham Lincoln had a completely different agenda for black people in this country"
.Bennett declared that Lincoln's role in emancipation was mostly emblematic, and offered this tale of 2 cities as evidence:
"He freed black people where he couldn't free them. And he left them in slavery where he could have freed them.  There's 2 cities in Virginia -- Norfolk and Richmond. On January 1st, 1863 Abe Lincoln couldn't get a cup of coffee in Richmond , VA.  In Norfolk VA on January 1st, 1863 he controlled every nail, every plank every gun every ship.  You know what he did?  On January 1st, 1863, he freed all the slaves in Richmond where he had absolutely no power and he left all the slaves in Norfolk,VA in slavery."
The indignity of my ignorance was, thankfully, somewhat assuaged by the fact that Obama himself appeared no better informed as he continued his speech.
"It is because of the millions who rallied to his cause that we are no longer divided, North and South, slave and free"
Princeton's resident white hater, Cornell West, went so far as to question the Senator's decision to announce on the same day as the forum which had been a year in the planning. 
"Obama is a very decent, brilliant, charismatic brother - there is no doubt about that.  The problem is that he's got folk who are talking to him who warrant our distrust.  Precisely because we know that him going to Springfield on the same day that brother Travis [Smiley] has set this up for a whole year, we already know then that him coming out there is not fundamentally about us - it's about somebody else.  He's got large numbers of white brothers and sisters who he who have fears and anxieties, and he's got to speak to them in such a way that he holds us at arm's length enough to say he loves us but doesn't get too close to scare them out.  So he's walking this tightrope."
Listening to these words, one gets the distinct feeling that the nutty professor stopped just short of invoking the name of a not-too-celebrated Harriet Beecher Stowe character. And that was prior to his warning that you can't take black people for granted just because you're black and questioning just what Obama was willing to sacrifice.  And, let's not forget the root of all white evil:
"We wanna know where your money's coming from!  Is it big white money, black money, red money, Catholic money, Jewish money?  Who's running your campaign at the financial level, so that we can recognize that there[‘re] always strings attached?"
West's payoff also questioned the Lincoln overtones:
"He's gotta be accountable - and starting off in [predominantly white] Springfield IL is not impressive to me."
Sharpton didn't seem particularly concerned with the furtherance of racial harmony either:
"We've had 2 black Secretaries of State.  Both of them had foreign policy that was not in the interest of us.  So just because you [are] our color [doesn't] make you our kind.  We want to know what you will represent"
It's striking that those who are more concerned with the black about his face than the green about his gills are members of his own race.

In closing, West cautioned the crowd about optimists, claiming them to be "not in touch with reality." Despite this uplifting sermon, one quite optimistic black Senator's voice resonated through the cold Illinois air.
"...because men and women of every race, from every walk of life, continued to march for freedom long after Lincoln was laid to rest"
Dr. Julia Hare, National Executive Director of The Black Think Tank, told the all but exclusively black audience that "integration is the illusion of inclusion." 

When the reverend Al actually condemned integration as a racist concept, his words elicited an enthusiastic standing O from the crowd.
"I think the fight was never for integration.  Some whites tried after they came in[to] the movement with a white supremacist notion act[ed] like the fight was about them.  The fight was about desegregation and self-determination - there's a difference.  We said if we're gonna pay the same dollar to get on the bus we're gonna sit where everybody else sits.  We weren't trying to sit next to whitey, we were trying not to be limited by our seating based on everybody else's seating.  If we[‘re] gonna pay taxes, we[‘re] gonna enjoy the same rights, so it's a white supremacist notion that we went to jail and graves to sit on a toilet with white folks.  We went to graves and we went to jail so that our dollar and our rights were regarded like anybody else.  We never tried to get with others, we wanted others to stop limiting us at the same amount of dollars."
Of course, it's difficult to imagine that Dr. Hare wasn't characterizing any of her fellow panelists when she warned the audience to never confuse leading blacks with black leaders. 
"Black leaders are chosen by the people they are going to lead.  Leading blacks are chosen by the media."
Hare then affectionately named those media puppeteers:
  • ABC - All Broadcasting Caucasians
  • NBC - Nothing Broadcasting But Caucasians
  • CBS - Caucasian Broadcasting System
Healing is a wonderful process, isn't it?  To hear Hare tell it, leading blacks sneak into boardrooms and tell them they can put down up and coming black leaders who don't suit their corporate purposes.  Of course, at least one man sitting on that stage has forged a booming personal-wealth industry by shaking down big-business through racial politics.  Unruffled -- Obama maintained his pledge of unity.
"..that beneath all the differences of race and region, faith and station, we are one people"
Addressing Obama's mixed lineage, Jesse Jackson's words have been either wholly overlooked or strangely misquoted
"Most of us, our forefathers were white and our foremothers were black.  If there's any doubt about that look at us on the stage up here today.  So there's nothing new about that relationship."
The panel included black men and women of varying skin tones and it appeared obvious that Jackson's words were crafted to imply them to be the progeny of behavior even more sordid than the institution of slavery itself.  Is there no limit to this man's outrageously irresponsible and divisive accusations?

Then, in a strange response to the evils of white supremacy, Jackson offered sports as an example of black superiority.  He said "we win" whenever "the playing field is even, the rules are public and the goals are clear," and predicted the same outcome one day in science, math and business when such an opportunity is extended. 

The twice failed presidential candidate also took a stab at Lincoln's emancipationist saga, but it's difficult to assess whether or not he broke any white skin:
"And there was this promise when we joined the Union Army to defeat the secessionist south to save the Union and to end slavery and Lincoln could not honor that promise because he didn't have power in the south but we got freed by 2 votes.....there was a betrayal of the promise."
Can we ever hope to be "one people" while black leaders (and leading blacks?) focus their masses on hatred and the squalid legacy of slavery; even resorting to dishonoring the man credited with its fall? 
"He tells us that there is power in hope"
Unfortunately, we witnessed little hope in Cathy Hughes of Radio One ranting about the benefits of blacks doing business exclusively with other blacks. Or Dr. Hare calling deductions from the paychecks of black men returning to the workforce after incarceration "taxation without representation," as their felony convictions stripped them of their voting rights. Or Malika Saada Saar equating imprisoned pregnant black women to slaves forced to lie with their pregnant bellies in holes while being whipped.   

However, Cornell West's words notwithstanding, some optimism did manage to flow from the HU stage.  We heard from Tim Reid and his wife Daphne, both strong proponents of education -- particularly in the black community.  Tim, who you may remember as Venus Fly Trap in the TV show WKRP in Cincinnati, lamented that one of the most popular tee-shirts in Africa bears the face of thug rapper Tupac Shakur.  He added that it was time for young black men to aspire toward a better image than that of "violent buck." There was also Dr. Mae Jemison who discounted her distinction as the 1st black woman in space, saying the better goal is to be the 1st human to achieve, rather than the 1st subclass to do so.

Regrettably, those promoting education and individual achievement were not nearly as well received as were their racially antagonist counterparts.

And, so, while these words came from Obama in Springfield, IL:
"..you came here because you believe in what this country can be. In the face of war, you believe there can be peace. In the face of despair, you believe there can be hope. In the face of a politics that's shut you out, that's told you to settle, that's divided us for too long, you believe that we can be one people, reaching for what's possible, building that more perfect union."
These came the very same day from Sharpton in Hampton, VA:
"If I were to give advice to Senator Obama, I would say to get every vote you can but tell them where you stand.  Choose you this day who you will serve.  Will you serve us or will you serve others?"
It's becoming abundantly clear that this multicultural experiment has forged a melting pot short the heat necessary to incorporate its ingredients. 

Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards preaches of "Two Americas."

Candidate Obama will be forced to deal with the likelihood that his fellow presidential hopeful's count isn't even close.

Marc Sheppard is a technology consultant, software engineer, writer, and political and systems analyst. He is a regular contributor to American Thinker. He welcomes your feedback.
On the 10th day of this year's Black History Month, C-SPAN's coverage of the State of the Black Union conference was preempted in midbroadcast. The spotlight departed the Hampton University forum to journey to the site of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, IL where Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous house-divided anti-slavery speech in 1858.  Here, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) was about to employ a similar unity theme in announcing his quest to become the first black man in American history to make an earnest, rather than merely symbolic, run for the presidency.  While the imagery of the moment totally enraptured
the mainstream media, the stage 750 miles to the east was decidedly less giddy.

Before a crowd of between 15,000 and 17,000 shivering supporters, the freshman Senator from Illinois took full advantage of the political significance of the time (2 days before Lincoln's birthday) and the place of his historic speech.
"... in the shadow of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a house divided to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still live, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States of America."
Now, the stated theme of the Hampton, VA symposium was the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown Settlement and its historical significance to the slave trade.  With that in mind, one might expect Obama's effort to emulate and honor the "Great Emancipator" with these remarks to be well received there.   
"..through his will and his words, he moved a nation and helped free a people"
So, you may imagine the surprise the reaction from Rev. Al Sharpton evoked in this white byproduct of the NY public school system who had naïvely presumed that Lincoln was accepted as a hero by all Americans of color:
"I wish Obama had announced here ‘cause Lincoln did not free us - the abolitionist movement freed us.  Lincoln accommodated to freedom fighters, he was not a freedom fighter. We got to quit giving the wrong people credit for our history."
Heavy fare, indeed. But this would be only the beginning of the panel's black history revisionism and my consequent reeducation.  Lerone Bennett of Ebony Magazine repeated the theme of his batty book Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln's White Dream which paints Lincoln as a life-long white supremacist whose actual goal was the deportation of blacks back to Africa. According to Bennett, were it up to Lincoln, the black Senator would not be allowed to live in America, much less run for its highest office:
"The only emancipation plan Lincoln had was a constitutional amendment to deport the black people of this county. So it's ironic ... the American people ought to know that Abraham Lincoln had a completely different agenda for black people in this country"
.Bennett declared that Lincoln's role in emancipation was mostly emblematic, and offered this tale of 2 cities as evidence:
"He freed black people where he couldn't free them. And he left them in slavery where he could have freed them.  There's 2 cities in Virginia -- Norfolk and Richmond. On January 1st, 1863 Abe Lincoln couldn't get a cup of coffee in Richmond , VA.  In Norfolk VA on January 1st, 1863 he controlled every nail, every plank every gun every ship.  You know what he did?  On January 1st, 1863, he freed all the slaves in Richmond where he had absolutely no power and he left all the slaves in Norfolk,VA in slavery."
The indignity of my ignorance was, thankfully, somewhat assuaged by the fact that Obama himself appeared no better informed as he continued his speech.
"It is because of the millions who rallied to his cause that we are no longer divided, North and South, slave and free"
Princeton's resident white hater, Cornell West, went so far as to question the Senator's decision to announce on the same day as the forum which had been a year in the planning. 
"Obama is a very decent, brilliant, charismatic brother - there is no doubt about that.  The problem is that he's got folk who are talking to him who warrant our distrust.  Precisely because we know that him going to Springfield on the same day that brother Travis [Smiley] has set this up for a whole year, we already know then that him coming out there is not fundamentally about us - it's about somebody else.  He's got large numbers of white brothers and sisters who he who have fears and anxieties, and he's got to speak to them in such a way that he holds us at arm's length enough to say he loves us but doesn't get too close to scare them out.  So he's walking this tightrope."
Listening to these words, one gets the distinct feeling that the nutty professor stopped just short of invoking the name of a not-too-celebrated Harriet Beecher Stowe character. And that was prior to his warning that you can't take black people for granted just because you're black and questioning just what Obama was willing to sacrifice.  And, let's not forget the root of all white evil:
"We wanna know where your money's coming from!  Is it big white money, black money, red money, Catholic money, Jewish money?  Who's running your campaign at the financial level, so that we can recognize that there[‘re] always strings attached?"
West's payoff also questioned the Lincoln overtones:
"He's gotta be accountable - and starting off in [predominantly white] Springfield IL is not impressive to me."
Sharpton didn't seem particularly concerned with the furtherance of racial harmony either:
"We've had 2 black Secretaries of State.  Both of them had foreign policy that was not in the interest of us.  So just because you [are] our color [doesn't] make you our kind.  We want to know what you will represent"
It's striking that those who are more concerned with the black about his face than the green about his gills are members of his own race.

In closing, West cautioned the crowd about optimists, claiming them to be "not in touch with reality." Despite this uplifting sermon, one quite optimistic black Senator's voice resonated through the cold Illinois air.
"...because men and women of every race, from every walk of life, continued to march for freedom long after Lincoln was laid to rest"
Dr. Julia Hare, National Executive Director of The Black Think Tank, told the all but exclusively black audience that "integration is the illusion of inclusion." 

When the reverend Al actually condemned integration as a racist concept, his words elicited an enthusiastic standing O from the crowd.
"I think the fight was never for integration.  Some whites tried after they came in[to] the movement with a white supremacist notion act[ed] like the fight was about them.  The fight was about desegregation and self-determination - there's a difference.  We said if we're gonna pay the same dollar to get on the bus we're gonna sit where everybody else sits.  We weren't trying to sit next to whitey, we were trying not to be limited by our seating based on everybody else's seating.  If we[‘re] gonna pay taxes, we[‘re] gonna enjoy the same rights, so it's a white supremacist notion that we went to jail and graves to sit on a toilet with white folks.  We went to graves and we went to jail so that our dollar and our rights were regarded like anybody else.  We never tried to get with others, we wanted others to stop limiting us at the same amount of dollars."
Of course, it's difficult to imagine that Dr. Hare wasn't characterizing any of her fellow panelists when she warned the audience to never confuse leading blacks with black leaders. 
"Black leaders are chosen by the people they are going to lead.  Leading blacks are chosen by the media."
Hare then affectionately named those media puppeteers:
  • ABC - All Broadcasting Caucasians
  • NBC - Nothing Broadcasting But Caucasians
  • CBS - Caucasian Broadcasting System
Healing is a wonderful process, isn't it?  To hear Hare tell it, leading blacks sneak into boardrooms and tell them they can put down up and coming black leaders who don't suit their corporate purposes.  Of course, at least one man sitting on that stage has forged a booming personal-wealth industry by shaking down big-business through racial politics.  Unruffled -- Obama maintained his pledge of unity.
"..that beneath all the differences of race and region, faith and station, we are one people"
Addressing Obama's mixed lineage, Jesse Jackson's words have been either wholly overlooked or strangely misquoted
"Most of us, our forefathers were white and our foremothers were black.  If there's any doubt about that look at us on the stage up here today.  So there's nothing new about that relationship."
The panel included black men and women of varying skin tones and it appeared obvious that Jackson's words were crafted to imply them to be the progeny of behavior even more sordid than the institution of slavery itself.  Is there no limit to this man's outrageously irresponsible and divisive accusations?

Then, in a strange response to the evils of white supremacy, Jackson offered sports as an example of black superiority.  He said "we win" whenever "the playing field is even, the rules are public and the goals are clear," and predicted the same outcome one day in science, math and business when such an opportunity is extended. 

The twice failed presidential candidate also took a stab at Lincoln's emancipationist saga, but it's difficult to assess whether or not he broke any white skin:
"And there was this promise when we joined the Union Army to defeat the secessionist south to save the Union and to end slavery and Lincoln could not honor that promise because he didn't have power in the south but we got freed by 2 votes.....there was a betrayal of the promise."
Can we ever hope to be "one people" while black leaders (and leading blacks?) focus their masses on hatred and the squalid legacy of slavery; even resorting to dishonoring the man credited with its fall? 
"He tells us that there is power in hope"
Unfortunately, we witnessed little hope in Cathy Hughes of Radio One ranting about the benefits of blacks doing business exclusively with other blacks. Or Dr. Hare calling deductions from the paychecks of black men returning to the workforce after incarceration "taxation without representation," as their felony convictions stripped them of their voting rights. Or Malika Saada Saar equating imprisoned pregnant black women to slaves forced to lie with their pregnant bellies in holes while being whipped.   

However, Cornell West's words notwithstanding, some optimism did manage to flow from the HU stage.  We heard from Tim Reid and his wife Daphne, both strong proponents of education -- particularly in the black community.  Tim, who you may remember as Venus Fly Trap in the TV show WKRP in Cincinnati, lamented that one of the most popular tee-shirts in Africa bears the face of thug rapper Tupac Shakur.  He added that it was time for young black men to aspire toward a better image than that of "violent buck." There was also Dr. Mae Jemison who discounted her distinction as the 1st black woman in space, saying the better goal is to be the 1st human to achieve, rather than the 1st subclass to do so.

Regrettably, those promoting education and individual achievement were not nearly as well received as were their racially antagonist counterparts.

And, so, while these words came from Obama in Springfield, IL:
"..you came here because you believe in what this country can be. In the face of war, you believe there can be peace. In the face of despair, you believe there can be hope. In the face of a politics that's shut you out, that's told you to settle, that's divided us for too long, you believe that we can be one people, reaching for what's possible, building that more perfect union."
These came the very same day from Sharpton in Hampton, VA:
"If I were to give advice to Senator Obama, I would say to get every vote you can but tell them where you stand.  Choose you this day who you will serve.  Will you serve us or will you serve others?"
It's becoming abundantly clear that this multicultural experiment has forged a melting pot short the heat necessary to incorporate its ingredients. 

Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards preaches of "Two Americas."

Candidate Obama will be forced to deal with the likelihood that his fellow presidential hopeful's count isn't even close.

Marc Sheppard is a technology consultant, software engineer, writer, and political and systems analyst. He is a regular contributor to American Thinker. He welcomes your feedback.