Nathan Bedford Forrest: “The Racist Lives On!”

“Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools. And their grand-children are once more slaves.”
D.H. Lawrence

 

On April 12, 2011, the United States will commemorate one of the most important historical feats of American history that shaped this country on the basis of economics, race, class, and civil rights. The Civil War was considered the most expensive and bloodiest wars that happened on American soil to the tune of close to 620,000 slave, civilian, and soldier casualties. According to Legendsofamerican.com, a history based website outlining American history events states: “more than three million men fought in the Civil War about 900,000 for the Confederacy and 2.1 million for the Union.” For four years (1861-1865) the states were split between the Union and Confederate states. The eleven southern states declared their secession from the Union due to President Lincoln’s passage of The Emancipation Proclamation in freeing and abolishing slavery. In the north, the industrial revolution was taking shape and businessman and owners of factories were needing employees as well as a diverse work force. These industrialists felt if the slaves were freed, as well as educated, then many would leave the south and migrate north, which ended up happening much later during a period called The Great Migration. This was also a time when abolitionists and many religious groups like Catholics and Quakers began questioning and speaking out on south’s brutal slave trade and sharecropping industry.

On April 8th, 1861, three months after Lincoln was sworn in as the President, the Confederate States of America had elected Jefferson Davis as their president and Alexander Stephens as their vice-president. The Confederates adopted the Bars and Stars as their flag and declared Montgomery, Alabama the capital. The south declared war on the north believing that slavery and integration would destroy their industry.

“Though African Americans constituted less than one percent of the northern population, by the war’s end made up ten percent of the Union Army. A total of 180,000 black men, more than 85% of those eligible, enlisted. By the end of the Confederate surrender 1865, there were more African-Americans in the Union army than there were soldiers in the Confederate army.”

One of the most important players of the Confederate Army and one of the architects and Grand Wizard’s of the Ku Klux Klan is General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Born July 13th, 1821, Forrest was born first of 12 siblings in Chapel Hill, Tennessee. A planter and plantation owner by trade, he was also an astute real estate developer as well as slave trader making him one of Memphis, Tennessee’s richest men before the war.

While General for the Confederate Army, Forrest’s behavior and vile nature toward blacks were both evil and outright illegal. He “had 30 horses shot from under him and personally killed 31 men in hand-to-hand combat.” He was also responsible for the massacre of 300 black Union army and white Southern Unionist prisoners to be killed during the Battle of Fort Pillow. After the Confederate army surrendered to the Union, Forest moved back to Memphis where he took a major financial blow because of his slave trading business folding due to The Emancipation Proclamation. He took a job as the president of the Marion & Memphis Railroad but due to poor economic times he ran a prison work farm. This was also the same time he became the Grand Wizard for the Ku Klux Klan.

Needless to say, Forrest died of diabetes as well as destitute and broke.

On the heels of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, the Mississippi members of the Sons of Confederate want to have a special license plate of Nathan Bedford Forrest as one of the five new designs. Back in 2002 the state approved having a specialty plate commemorating the Civil War. This year’s plate is of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate army.

Derrick Johnson, the president of the NAACP in Mississippi states: “he(Forrest) should be viewed in the same light that we view Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.” He adds: “the state of Mississippi should deny any vanity tags which would highlight racial hatred in this state.”

In the sad state of racial and cultural amnesia that both some white and black folks deal with here in America, I wonder did anyone learn anything from history lessons while in school? Why hasn’t this generation dealt with the truth of the Confederate’s past? Why the Confederate’s past have no place in the future? Slavery and the Civil War continues to divide and conquer ignorance and miseducation in our current race relations. The last I checked, the Civil War was a war based strictly on economics. Yet, the Sons of Confederate want to bring on another 150 years of their racist and segregationist mind state that Mississippi is still trying to live down.

Having worked and lived as a journalist for a year in Jackson, Mississippi, this story leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. One, there are many good black and white folks that I encountered while living there who want to move on from their bitter past. Guys like Greg Stewart, a member of the Sons of Confederate, believes “if Christian redemption means anything and we want redemption, I think he(Forrest) redeemed himself in his own time, in his own words.” Stewart is entitled to his own opinion, as with all the members of the Sons, but ignorance and stupidity reign supreme on this matter. How would whites feel if any state issued a Willie Lynch, Huey P. Newton, or Mumia Abu Jamal license plate? The same way many African-Americans are carrying on about the Forrest plate, the same white folks would be protesting these black revolutionaries I just mentioned. Yet, Forrest was a murder and racist. Hum! Lynch and Newton, although both encouraged blacks self-reliance and protection of oneself, used different tactics to communicate their message, yet some whites hate and despised them.

It’s one thing to study your history and commemorate your past. I’ve always been an advocate of teaching and learning of ones self. But to continue to perpetuate the past, a dark past who taught the country to split apart from the vile nature of slavery and Jim Crow, yet to come back to it, then, that’s sick! These same Sons of Confederate are the ones who support and uplift the ideologies of racist and terrorist behavior. Yes people, the Ku Klux Klan is a terrorist organization that used lynching and bombing of synagogues and homes to keep blacks in control. The real truth of the matter is that Nathan Bedford Forrest would be considered a terrorist and the Sons acknowledging this in 2011 proves that ignorance is bliss! Resorting to elevating Forrest’s legacy via a license plate or the many statues erected in his honor tells me we still have a long way to go on dealing with our history and dealing with race.

The Revolution Will Be Televised,
Brian Pace
The Pace Report
http://www.thepacereport.com
thepacereport@yahoo.com

Dismantling and Eliminating the Term ‘Post-Racial’

In the summer of 1994 sisters Gladys and Jamie Scott were sentenced to double life sentences and sent to a maximum security Mississippi prison for a robbery that totaled $11.00. Many civil rights organizations like the NAACP, Amnesty International, and SCLC have protested and fought for the release and pardon of these sisters over the years for what the legal system deemed as an ‘excessive sentence’ that didn’t suit the crime. On January 7th, 2011 the Scott sisters were released from prison. Part of their conditions upon release was for Gladys to donate her kidney to her younger sister Jamie. Mississippi governor Haley Barbor claimed the sisters release was due to economic factors in which it would save the state $190,000 a year in medical expenses including weekly dialysis procedures for Jamie Scott. According to the NAACP’s national president Benjamin Jealous “This is a great day for Jamie and Gladys, it’s a great day for the family and its a great day for literally hundreds of thousands of people around the country who worked for this release … This case resonates for many reasons and we have to be truthful about [the fact] that  this country has only 5 percent of the world’s people but 25 percent of the worlds prisons … something is seriously wrong.”

On October 21st, 2009, Claude Simmons Jr., 54, and Christopher Scott, 39 were exonerated in Dallas, Texas for being wrongly accused for the 1997 murder of Alfonso Aguliar and sexual assault of his wife. In a case of mistaken identity, both Simmons and Scott served 12 years. By the grace of God and research and evidence conducted by the students at the University of Texas at Arlington and the University of Texas at Austin, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals declared both men innocent. After the murders occurred in 1997, the authorities brought Aguliar’s wife to the Dallas Police Station to identify the men who allegedly murdered her husband. As Agiliar made her way to the line-up, she noticed a heavy-set, bald African-American male in handcuffs. She declared Claude Simmons Jr. one of the murderers. Simmons, who was already booked on previous drug charges, was tried along with his friend Christopher Scott. Even though the men had alibis and witnesses claimed the men weren’t responsible for the crime, Aguliar’s case was so strong that the jury handed them a guilty verdict in less than six minutes.

As the United States elected Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th President of the United States and the first person of color to hold this seat, the press and media talking heads have been trying to analyze and criticize the current administration.Brother O’s stance of immigration, the economy, Middle Eastern affairs, and now his take on race and diversity has been getting international attention. Obama has begun to integrate Washington, DC at a time when the country is shifting both economically and racially. He appointed Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina to the Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States and Eric Holder, the first African-American appointed as the United State’s Attorney General. Yet, while cases like the Scott sisters and brothers Simmons and Scott as mentioned earlier, these and hundreds of thousands of cases where innocent African-Americans are imprisoned wrongfully for crimes they didn’t commit, are now finally seeing the light of day. Not to mention those who are incarcerated for stiffer sentences for petty or first offense crimes.

Since President Obama’s election, the press has created a term I think is rather silly and a bit unstable. “Post-Racial” continues to come out the mouths of many talking heads, yet, the term is ‘moot‘ and has no relevance in these times. Let’s begin by breaking down the words. The word “post” according to Webster’s Dictionary has 15 definitions used as both as a noun or a verb with or without an object. The context I’ll use means “to denounce by public notice.” The word “racial” is an adjective that’s defined as “of, pertaining to, or characteristic of one race or the races of humankind.”

So, let me get this straight? In 2011 I’m supposed to “denounce by public notice” the injustices and atrocities “of, pertaining to” the “characteristic of one race or the races of humankind?” This doesn’t sit to well with me. For a person to sit down and let the court and legal system continue to allow these and many cases to continue while taking the lives of innocent black people in this so-called ‘post-racial’ society is dangerous and perhaps ignorant. According to Attorney General Eric Holder during a speech at the 50th Anniversary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina last year adds:  “a little more than a month ago, the U.S. Sentencing Commission released a study that found African-American and Latino men are more likely to receive longer prison sentences than their white counterparts – a reality aggravated by the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity that Congress is, fortunately, now taking steps to reduce. And, just this past week, a U.S. District court judge – at the urging of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division – ordered the Walthall County School District in Tylertown, Mississippi – just miles from where SNCC planted the seeds of its freedom ballots campaign in 1961 – to comply with an order from nearly four decades ago to halt practices that were encouraging the re-segregation of their schools.”

The classic quote from poet and philosopher George Santayana “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” sits well in these times. For the life of me, I’ve always wondered why some white folks that use this term never ask a person of color about these modern day legal battles among blacks? Do the Jews forget about the Holocaust? Of course not! Do the Native Americans here in the US forget about and still deal with how the US has pimped them on the oversight of poor treatment, treaty violations, racial discrimination, and never got the credit for helping build this country, like blacks, in shaping post-war relations. Of course not! So, saying we live in a ‘post-racial’ society is like saying Elvis Presley didn’t steal his musical style from black musicians or Pete Rose didn’t gamble! Forgetting ones past and history is something that we as a minority shouldn’t take lightly. Latinos, Indians,Jews, Chinese, African-Americans and other diverse nationalities here in the US should take pride in their culture and heritage. Never forget your past!

The reality is we’ll never live in what the press calls a ‘post-racial’ society. Its a new term used somewhat as mind-control. Thinking President Obama is beginning of a ‘post-racial’ society is dead wrong. Just because he’s bi-racial doesn’t mean that country is past dealing with race. Nor, can we forget the past. The prisons, failed school systems, and constant perpetuation of negative black stereotypes add to the fodder in keeping to failure of dealing with this so-called ‘post-racial’ society. Saying we live in a ‘post-racial’ is saying you don’t want to identify with blacks, yet alone other multi-cultural nationalities. We don’t exist! Again, this kind of mind state is dead wrong.

 

The Revolution Will Be Televised,

Brian Pace

The Pace Report

www.thepacereport.com

thepacereport@yahoo.com