Jesse Jackson Scourged in The Baltimore Times

Jesse Jackson Scourged in The Baltimore Times


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



What Jackson contributed to black life and culture is no small matter. When he joined Martin and SCLC in 1963,

he organized Chicago’s black clergymen in support of King. In 1966, he coordinated efforts that

 challenged the northern racism that prevented integration of schools and open housing. He also

led campaigns for enlightened hiring and employment policies.



Jesse Jackson Scourged in The Baltimore Times

Promoting Project 21 & Conservative Blacks

Editorial by Rudolph Lewis


Language is a dangerous thing. Sometimes it is only the speaker that it hurts. Man gotta be wise! It is through the WORK that change cometh, not through the WORD.


Aduku’s Parable

There’s a media move by a phalanx of black conservatives to displace the traditional civil rights leadership. Jessie Jackson is the face on their target sheets. If he can be eliminated or dislodged from the sympathetic hearts of African-Americans, these conservative cohorts of the Republican extremists believe that the entrepreneurial field will be cleared for their own brand of selling out the aspirations of black people to the highest bidder.

Baltimore’s No.1 black weekly, The Baltimore Times, recently placed on center stage Lisa Fritsch, one of these glib conservative media hounds who is a member of Project 21. Ms. Fritsch’s article, “Jesse Jackson: Can He, Please, Just Move Along” (January 9-15, 2004), argues that the primary obstacle to black progress is black leadership, a position representative, it seems, of the paper’s Editor and Publisher and many leading local black commentators.

I was stunned by this venomous attack on Jackson and other black leaders and surprised to find such an editorial in The Baltimore Times. Fritsch’s views are so radically racist, the most conservative white commentator would not dare make such public statements.

Whatever critique I might have of Jesse Jackson, I respect this former lieutenant of Martin Luther King, Jr. I admire him for the sacrifices he has made on behalf of black liberation. In 1960 at North Carolina A & T, Jackson became the “point man” in the Greensboro sit-ins, which speeded up integration in that city, daring deeds performed in the Southland at a time when black men could be lynched and murdered without fear of prosecution.

What Jackson contributed to black life and culture is no small matter. When he joined Martin and SCLC in 1963, he organized Chicago’s black clergymen in support of King. In 1966, he coordinated efforts that challenged the northern racism that prevented integration of schools and open housing. He also led campaigns for enlightened hiring and employment policies. Such campaigns changed the tenor of America’s treatment of all African Americans.

When confronted by these new conservative demagogues, we must ask, “What selfless acts has The National Leadership Network of Conservative African-Americans (Project 21) committed on behalf of the black poor and disenfranchised?” By their own mission statement, their primary intent is merely “writing opinion editorials for newspapers, participating in public policy discussions on radio and television, by participating in policy panels, by giving speeches before student, business and community groups, and by advising policymakers at the national, state and local levels.”

Theirs is a reactionary program, as agents of Republican extremists, designed to attack and discredit the present black leaders who fight for the economic and political rights of African Americans.

According to the elitist Fritsch, “It is an insult to be led by the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.” For these leaders, according to Fritsch, lack “character and dignity.” They cannot legitimately “push for progress in our schools” because they lack “a solid education or background in teaching.”

Fritsch then strikes below the belt. “Is it too much to ask that the man leading us not have fathered a child out of wedlock while married.” By the thrust of her argument, should we also, one may ask, demolish the Jefferson Memorial, or erase Strom Thurmond from the honored rolls of the U.S. Senate? But these obsequious sycophants lack the courage to attack their masters.

Fighting “for equal opportunity” in America, argues Fritsch, is “archaic talk” because “equal opportunity already exists.” It is ours “for the taking.” She must be a candidate for Bush’s Mars program. For surely she does not exist in the same sane world as most African Americans.

We mislead our kids, according to these oedipal conservatives, by telling them that racial injustice remains in America—all they need do is “respect their teachers and other adults, study in school to their best and make abstinence a priority.” That we complain about black urban schools— their under-funding, understaffing, and misguided curriculums—reflects our lack of appreciation of the best of all possible worlds, that is, present-day America.

Whatever education Ms. Fritsch has, she is absolutely ignorant of any basic knowledge of the sociology of poverty and the life of the poor. The notion that the poor exists in America because of their own lack of “character and dignity” results from a self-willed blindness to the structural economic and social oppression and repression that exists in America. Fritsch’s assessment is insulting. She must be one these comfortable “house nigguhs,” faraway from the cotton fields of reality, defending her largesse or scuffling to get her share of the lucrative shakedowns.

Of course, for these black conservatives, black crime has no relationship with black poverty and neglect. Instead of complaining about Constitutional violations, such as police brutality and other police excesses, black leaders should “support the police . . . instead of coming to the aid of scandal for publicity’s sake” and “stop taking up causes of black criminals so that racial profiling will die along with black-on-black crime.”

I advise Ms. Fritsch and her cohorts at The Baltimore Times to read about the “round royal” and the “money grab” in Ellison’s The Invisible Man (Chapter 1) if they seriously want to know the nature of “black-on-black” crimes. For their attacks on African Americans’ choice of leaders is itself a black-on-black crime, seemingly one that will go unpunished.

Cleverly and deceptively, Ms. Fritsch and Leadership Network Project 21 argue that  the “need for a black leader . . . is as outdated as it is unproductive.” More precisely, these new black taskmasters prefer that African Americans disregard those leaders who argue for and defend our Constitutional rights and guarantees. According to Fritsch, such Constitutional advocacy fuels “the fires of animosity” rather than capitulates in the name of “racial healing.”

If in “roughly 40 years of leadership” by their “stories of discontent and despair” these civil rights activists have not yet fully liberated black people, they need “to move along” and “fade away” so that blacks can “receive proper representation and respect.” Fritsch describes our present leaders as “shifty black men” who “move in on a societal cash cow that they are now unwilling to abandon,” that they have “made a very lucrative career out of fighting on our behalf.”

Portraying black peoples “as underdogs,” these leaders keep us involved in the “shakedowns, threats and tirades” and “discredit our ability to think and speak for ourselves.”

For my money, the “shifty” traditional leadership who place their hopes in the rightness and the fulfillment of America’s Constitution guarantees have the moral upper hand rather than the shifty National Leadership Network of Conservative African-Americans  (Project 21) who have placed their hearts and minds  in service of Republican extremists and American corporate power.

Neither set of “shifty” leaders is my preference. The state of America’s poor and working class should be the guideline and measure of the health and welfare of American governance, a topic that these aspiring corporate flunkies conveniently avoid. As it stands presently, 40 million Americans are without healthcare, poverty increases, and our penal institutions burst at the seams.

But, for today’s servile black conservatives, these critical social issues which have an increasing impact on most Americans (black and white) pale in comparison to their  immediate task of emphasizing the impotency of black leaders in countering the rising tide of corporate economic exploitation and governmental social repression.

posted 16 January 2004

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update 14 February 2012




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Related files: Jesse Jackson Scourged   Responses to Project 21  Black Bourgeoisie Defend Their Own in Chicago Tragedy 

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