The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It WON’T Be Like!”: Part 5
This blog post is the fifth in a series. Each entry in the series will be building on information and commentary in the earlier entries. So it would be best to start reading with the Introduction to the series.
Please note re: terminology: This series is about a time in U.S. history when the typical “respectable” terms used to refer to African Americans or “Blacks,” were either “colored” or “Negro.” The so-called “N-word” has been used, of course, as a term of disrespect and scorn since the time of slavery. When reporting news events of the Civil Rights movement era, I sometimes choose to use Negro because that is the term that would be typically used in newspapers, magazines, on signs, and so on throughout that era.
In the previous installment of this series, Ruby’s Shoes, we met little six year old Ruby Bridges.
In 1954 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled segregation of public schools to be illegal, in its decision on the Brown v (the Topeka, Kansas) Board of Education case brought before it. But by 1960 most grade schools, high schools, and colleges throughout the South were still segregated. Pressure from the Federal Government to remedy this problem was increasing. So a few at a time, brave young Negro students stepped up to the challenge to be the guinea pigs for the integration process. Ruby Bridges’ trials as the first Negro child to enroll at her segregated neighborhood school in New Orleans in 1960 were immortalized in the famous painting by Norman Rockwell, “The Problem We All Live With.”
It was a grueling first grade for Ruby—virtually all of the white parents pulled their children…from all grades…out of the school in protest, leaving only two white first graders to attend the school along with Ruby. And none of those three little girls even saw each other. Ruby was still segregated into a classroom all by herself with a white teacher—who was from the North…the southern white teachers all refused to teach a Negro student—and even the other two white girls were put each in a separate room.
The daily loneliness was no doubt hard on little Ruby, even though she came to love her teacher. But what was no doubt even harder was the daily gauntlet Ruby had to pass through to get into the school for many weeks. White protestors, many of them mothers and grandmothers, showed up regularly to taunt and torment and scream at this wee little girl…one of them even regularly flaunting at her a little casket with a “dead” Negro baby doll in it. The spirit of lynching was alive and well…
Think that “spirit of lynching” is an exaggeration? Here is a picture of a 15 year old girl named Elizabeth Eckford, one of the nine young Negroes attempting to be the first to integrate the Little Rock.Arkansas, High School on September 4, 1957. She had arrived later than the other eight students, and thus was walking through the roaring crowd all alone. Reporters at the time noted that some in the crowd were screaming “Lynch her! Lynch her!” But that wasn’t what the girl (another fifteen year old!) in this iconic picture from that era was screaming…the photographer who took the photo later quoted her as shrieking “Go home, nigger! Go back to Africa!”
When the Arkansas National Guard, sent by Governor Orval Faubus to block the entry of the Negro teens, turned Elizabeth away from the schoolhouse door, she was even more aggressively confronted by the crowd.
They moved closer and closer. … Somebody started yelling. … I tried to see a friendly face somewhere in the crowd—someone who maybe could help. I looked into the face of an old woman and it seemed a kind face, but when I looked at her again, she spat on me.
Elizabeth made it to a bus stop to escape to home. There while she waited on a bench, another voice in the crowd shouted, “Drag her over to the tree.” (Once again, a painfully obvious reference to lynching.) But there, gratefully, one kind white woman did shield her a bit from the crowd, and helped her get on the bus.
This type of scene, of white protesters jeering and mocking and demeaning—and threatening—Negro children and teens and college students, was repeated all over the South for almost a decade, from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s. And sprinkled throughout the hateful crowds at every such scene were the signs and posters and placards bearing ridicule, rage, spite and venom…and Bible references. Below are sample news photos from that era, from the crowd that showed up outside Ruby’s school, to other identical crowds scattered around the South. As you can see, there were sign messages that repeated over and over.
The Bible passage in 2 Peter referred to on the sign reads, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.”
The small flyer that the man on the left is holding up is illustrated by what can literally be called a “pre-Internet MEME”! The grotesque drawing, by some anonymous “artist,” showed up all over the country with different “details” in the text below. Here’s what the drawing itself and it’s “Conquer and Breed” title looked like up close:
The version above, from Little Rock, is accompanied by typewritten text at the bottom that offers a supposed “quote” (likely totally spurious, as the quotes on modern controversial Internet memes often are) from Walter White, NAACP secretary at the time, to the effect that integration in the public schools will lead to “friendship, love and marriage.” The implication is that the whole purpose of integration in the minds of Negroes is not better schooling at all, but a plan to open the floodgates of interracial marriage. I’m not sure how “love and marriage” is equal in the author’s mind to the obvious “imminent rape” of a virginal young southern woman by a monstrous colored man. But the image was used over and over to accompany such dire warnings.
For instance… at the exact same time in Fall 1957 that the Little Rock Nine were attempting to integrate Little Rock High School, efforts were underway 350 miles to the east to integrate several grade schools in Nashville, Tennessee. The protest group photo above, which featured a poster with the Conquer and Breed meme is from a demonstration in Nashville against those efforts.
And at the exact same time, the meme showed up 800 miles northest of Nashville in Levittown, Pennsylvania, where a “housing integration” drama was playing out.
Construction of the Pennsylvania planned community began in 1952. It was one of three “Levittowns” in the United States, “assembly line housing suburbs” that were created by William Levitt in the 1940s and 50s to meet the needs of (white) returning WW2 veterans and their families.
Although Levittown was segregated by unspoken policy, a Negro veteran named Myers managed to quietly purchase a Levittown house for his family, with the help of a Jewish friend from work named Wechsler who already lived there and knew of a house next door that was for sale. The owner, in poor health and out of work, was desperate to sell, and willing to sell to a Negro family. The purchasing arrangements were made through a Negro Realtor, and the family attempted to quietly move in wihout fanfare. But the locals were immediately incensed when they found out, and a major confrontation lasting many weeks ensued:
[Regarding the situation in Little Rock:] On Tuesday, September 24, three weeks after school began, President Eisenhower took what one reporter called “the most drastic action ever used by a president to enforce a federal court decree on school desegregation.” He ordered the 101st Airborne Division to escort the nine African-American students to their first day of classes. “The interest of the nation in the proper fulfillment of the law’s requirements cannot yield to the opposition and demonstrations by some few persons,” Eisenhower said. He cited the charter of the United Nations to affirm “ ‘faith in fundamental human rights and in the dignity and worth of the human person . . . without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.’”
The words rang across the country, as the burgeoning civil rights struggle took hold. From Brown v. Board of Education through Rosa Parks, Emmett Till, and now Little Rock, a new kind of battle had gripped the country. Martin Luther King Jr. was at the forefront of the struggle, advocating nonviolence in the face of growing threats.
But when the Myerses and Wechslers awoke on September 25, the morning after Eisenhower’s order in Little Rock, they would find no such peace in Levittown. In the wee hours of the morning, they were awoken by the police. While the families slept, someone had painted the letters KKK, eighteen inches high, on the wall of the Wechslers’ home on the exterior wall facing the Myerses’ house. Next to the letters, a small poster entitled CONQUER AND BREED was framed in thick red paint.
Yes, it was a poster featuring the same meme illustration as the one seen above from the protest in Tennessee.
The poster showed a crude drawing of voluptuous white woman in a strapless dress with thick red lips and flowing hair. At her feet were the words SOUTHERN WOMANHOOD. She looked fearfully back over her shoulder at a fat, shirtless African-American man with a tribal necklace and menacing hands. A label on his pants read INTEGRATION. At the bottom of the poster were two quotes attributed to spokespersons for the NAACP: “The association of the Races in public schools leads to friendship, love and marriage” and “Integration will result in White girls being associated with Negro boys . . . Naturally intermarriage would result. We of the NAACP are committed to a program of full integration.” At the bottom of the page read the warning THE SOUTH MUST FIGHT OR PERISH. Someone had added in the margin, scrawled in red crayon, “We’re right here in Levittown. We know every move you make.” Someone had added the letters “K.K.K.” under the heading of the poster, CONQUER AND BREED.
[Kushner, David ; Levittown: Two Families, One Tycoon, and the Fight for Civil Rights in America’s Legendary Suburb . Bloomsbury Publishing.]
Yes, in 1957 The Signs of the Time were all across America, not just in the Deep South.
So here are some more:
A Negro mother guides two little girls through the gauntlet to enter a school. The sign reads “GOD IS THE AUTHOR OF SEGREGATION…GENESIS 9:25-27.” That passage of the Bible quotes Noah as saying, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” (Canaan was the son of Noah’s son Ham, and assumed by most racists to have been a “black” man. Shem is assumed by the same people to be “pure white.”)
Little Rock, 1957
A protest at the Capitol in Little Rock. Notice the sign reading “STOP THE RACE MIXING MARCH OF THE ANTI-CHRIST,” and the extremely common “RACE MIXING IS COMMUNISM” message.
These young Whites marching in Little Rock were in agreement with the protester screaming at Elizabeth Eckford over near the High School, as they insist “GO BACK TO AFRICA NEGROES.” (In spite of the fact, of course, that most Negroes in America had never BEEN in Africa, and many may have had ancestors in the United States long before the ancestors of these young Whites arrived.)
Little Rock, 1957
Here is Elizabeth Eckford and her young tormentor from another view—note the older housewife next to her…I think it not unlikely that that is a Bible she’s got grasped in her hand. Bibles were favorite “weapons” carried by protesters of the time.
New Orleans, 1960
The partially-covered sign on the right is ranting about the betrayal by Federal District Court Judge J Skelly Wright, who had ordered the integration of New Orleans schools to proceed promptly that year.
The Bible verse cited on the CURSED IS THE MAN WHO INTEGRATES sign, Jeremiah 11:3-6 reads.
And say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel; Cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant, Which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Obey my voice, and do them, according to all which I command you: so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God:That I may perform the oath which I have sworn unto your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day. Then answered I, and said, So be it, O Lord. Then the Lord said unto me, Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant, and do them.
I doubt that the young woman holding that sign has a clue to what connection those words have with the situation unfolding in front of her.
New Orleans, 1960
This group of protesters are at a Roman Catholic school that was ordered to integrate by its bishop. The sign on the left reads “TOKEN INTEGRATION MEANS FULL INTEGRATION.” The sign in the middle reads “INTEGRATION SAME AS COMMUNISM.” The sign second from right reads “INTEGRATION IS A MORTAL SIN… 1 ESDRAS 10:10-14.” 1 Esdras is the Roman Catholic name for the book of Ezra in the King James Bible.
And Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them, Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel. Now therefore make confession unto the Lord God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives. Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice, As thou hast said, so must we do. But the people are many, and it is a time of much rain, and we are not able to stand without, neither is this a work of one day or two: for we are many that have transgressed in this thing. Let now our rulers of all the congregation stand, and let all them which have taken strange wives in our cities come at appointed times, and with them the elders of every city, and the judges thereof, until the fierce wrath of our God for this matter be turned from us.
In the Old Testament, “strange wives” was used to refer to Israelites marrying heathen women of other religions, who might lure the men away from worshiping the True God who brought the Israelites out of Egypt. These Southern Whites are obviously trying to make this apply to Christian Whites marrying Christian Blacks, a difficult jump in logic and biblical interpretation to make! This kind of logic was used a lot in segregationist literature… in spite of the fact that a significant majority of White Southerners were Baptists…as were a significant number of Black Southerners.
Strangely enough, given the photo of Catholic protesters above, many anti-integrationists were also… anti-Roman-Catholic. The KKK spent a significant portion of its efforts since its founding in 1915 on anti-Catholic propaganda. As seen, for instance, in this 1926 illustration of the huge crowd of American Klansmen driving the Catholic Church (personified by St. Patrick) from American shores.
New Orleans 1960
The “INTEGRATION IS A MORTAL SIN” sign above (this is likely at the Ruby Bridges school protests) is the same exact one as that in the earlier photo of the Roman Catholic group. Either this lady borrowed the other lady’s sign from a different protest, or they were making multiple prints of scrawly hand-painted signs!
New Orleans, 1960
At Ruby Bridges’ school—another picture of the “dead Negro baby” in the casket. Notice the young child in the front carrying a cross. This, of course, is so that onlookers will realize that the mock funeral for the black baby is a Christian observance.
The photo on the big sign proudly carried by the crowd is of Louisiana Governor Jimmie Davis, a one-time popular country music singer, two-time (1944-48, 1960-64) governor, who was overseeing the state’s ultimately unsuccessful attempt to avoid integration. Davis, who is in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Gospel Music Hall of Fame, was most well-known for his 1939 rendition of the song “You Are My Sunshine,” named by the Recording Industry Association of America as one of the songs of the century. He even sang it at all of his campaign rallies in both the 40s and 60s, sometimes sitting on his horse named “Sunshine.”
When Davis wasn’t recording one of his forty albums, stumping with his horse, or running Louisiana politics…he was busy playing a singing cowboy in B-Western movies! Such as this gem from 1943, where he is billed as “Jimmie Davis and his Singing Buckaroos.”
But I digress…
Here’s one final photo from the era under consideration. The location is unknown, and it’s not a “protest crowd” … it’s the “signage rampage” of a single business owner. But it would obviously be a popular place to shop for the members of all those crowds!
Notice the “picture of Jesus” carefully Scotch-taped to the store window, so’s you’ll have no doubt that the owner is a “Christian.” And of course, the ever-present “Negro Go Home” message: “NEGROES NOT WANTED IN THE NORTH OR SOUTH. SEND THEM BACK TO AFRICA WHERE GOD ALMIGHTY PUT THEM TO BEGIN WITH. THAT IS THEIR HOME.”
So what do we learn from all this signage in the pics above about the dogmatic opinions for segregation and against integration of large numbers of whites in the South during that period?
Before we look at the opinions in detail, one thing you need to understand in order to adequately evaluate the messages of the Signs of the Time is …that the phrase “race mixing” never meant little white girls playing on a playground with little black girls. It ultimately means interracial sexual relations involving Negro men and white women, whether promiscuous or within a marriage. In other words, it was the firm belief of all of these people that school integration, even by a single little six year old black girl, was a slippery slope leading to black men marrying white women.
The possibility of interracial sexual relations was taken very seriously, as you can see from this story about the infamous 1958 “Kissing Case” from North Carolina, as it appeared on NPR:
In 1958, James Hanover Thompson [age 9] and his friend David Simpson [age 7] — both African-American, both children — were accused of kissing a girl who was white. They were arrested, and taken to jail. Prosecutors sought a stiff penalty — living in reform school until they were 21.
“The Kissing Case,” as it came to be known, drew international media attention to Monroe, N.C., at the time. But since then, it’s been largely forgotten. Even the Thompson family rarely talked about it. Recently, James Hanover Thompson sat down with his younger brother, Dwight, and told him what happened.
“We were playing with some friends over in the white neighborhood, chasing spiders and wrestling and stuff like that,” James says.
“One of the little kids suggested that one of the little white girls give us a kiss on the jaw,” he says. “The little girl gave me a peck on the cheek, and then she kissed David on the cheek. So, we didn’t think nothing of it. We were just little kids.”
But the little girl mentioned the kiss back home, and her parents were furious; the police set out in search of the boys.
We’ll pick up more details of the incident in the Wikipedia entry regarding the Kissing Case.
After the girl told her mother, her father and neighbors armed themselves with shotguns and went looking for the boys and their parents. That evening, police arrested Thompson and Simpson on charges of molestation. The young boys were detained for six days without access to their parents or legal counsel. They were handcuffed and beaten in a lower-level cell of the police station. A few days later a juvenile court judge found them guilty and sentenced them to indefinite terms in reform school. The boys, still denied legal counsel, were told they might get out when they were 21 years old. The local Ku Klux Klan, which had a headquarters in Monroe, burned crosses in front of the families’ houses, and some people shot at the houses.
Civil rights leader Robert F. Williams, head of the local chapter of the NAACP raised protests about the arrests and sentencing. Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt tried to talk with the governor. At first the local and state governments refused to back down in the case. Williams called Conrad Lynn, a noted black civil rights lawyer, who came down from New York to aid in the boys’ defense. Governor Luther H. Hodges and state attorney general Malcolm Seawell rejected Lynn’s writ (on behalf of Williams) to review the detention of the boys.
The mothers of the two boys were not allowed to see their children for weeks. Joyce Egginton, a journalist with the London Observer in the United Kingdom, got permission to visit the boys and took their mothers along. Egginton smuggled a camera in and took a picture of the mothers hugging their children. Her story of the case and photo were printed throughout Europe and Asia; the London Observer ran a photograph of the children’s reunion with their mothers under the headline, “WHY?” The United States Information Agency reported receiving more than 12,000 letters regarding the case, with most people expressing outrage at the events.
An international committee was formed in Europe to defend Thompson and Simpson. Huge demonstrations were held in Paris, Rome and Vienna and in Rotterdam against the United States for this case, and the U.S. Embassy was stoned. It was an international embarrassment for the U.S. government. In February, North Carolina officials asked the boys’ mothers to sign a waiver with the assurance that their children would be released. The mothers refused to sign the waiver, which would have required the boys to admit to being guilty of the charges.
Two days later, after the boys had spent three months in detention, the governor pardoned Thompson and Simpson without conditions or explanation. The state and city never apologized to the boys or their families for their treatment. Their lives were overturned. Commenting on it in 2011, Brenda Lee Graham, Thompson’s sister, said that he was never the same after these events.
The NPR story tells of the aftermath:
James’ sister, Brenda Lee Graham, also spoke about those days with Dwight, who was born in 1961, and grew up not knowing much about the incident.
“Mom was a nervous wreck. She didn’t sleep,” Brenda tells Dwight. “She would be up walking the floors and praying.”
Remembering what life was like for the rest of the family while the authorities were holding James, Brenda says, “I remember that at night, you could see them burning crosses…”
“Right there in the front yard?” Dwight asks.
“Right there in the front yard,” Brenda says. “And my mom and them, they would go out in the morning, and sweep bullets off our front porch.”
James says that each week during his detention, he was sent to a psychologist. “And he’d tell me, ‘They should have castrated y’all.’ I mean, it was just something,” he says.
Brenda says that when James came back home, “it was like seeing somebody different, that you didn’t even know. He never talked about what he went through there. But ever since then, his mind just hadn’t been the same.”
And, James says, while he and David were pardoned, they never got an apology, either.
“I still feel the hurt and the pain from it,” he says. “And nobody never said, ‘Hey, look, I’m sorry what happened to y’all. It was wrong.'”
He has spent most of his adult life in and out of prison for robbery.
“I always sit around and I wonder, if this hadn’t happened to me, you know, what could I have turned out to be?” James says. “Could I have been a doctor? Could I have went off to some college, or some great school? It just destroyed our life.”
Brenda says, “My brother and his friend had to suffer on account of that. And I mean, they suffered. From one kiss. I’ve thought about that. It all started with a kiss.”
Yes, there was great fear among the white population about black males and white females. But of course there were seldom any complaints about white men having sex with black women.
Some readers may remember a classic book published in 1961 titled Black Like Me.
Black Like Me is a nonfiction book by journalist John Howard Griffin first published in 1961. Griffin was a white native of Dallas, Texas and the book describes his six-week experience travelling on Greyhound buses (occasionally hitchhiking) throughout the racially segregated states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia passing as a black man. Sepia Magazine financed the project in exchange for the right to print the account first as a series of articles.
Griffin kept a journal of his experiences; the 188-page diary was the genesis of the book.
[In order to darken his skin so that he was accepted as a Negro]… Griffin underwent a regimen of large oral doses of the anti-vitiligo drug methoxsalen, trade name Oxsoralen, and spending up to fifteen hours daily under an ultraviolet lamp.
I bring up this book because I particularly remember a section where he describes entering a segregated “Colored” bus station men’s bathroom in Alabama and discovers that it is typical for WHITE men to tape “notices” …. want ads…on the stall doors… offering a sliding scale of “fees” for sex with black women. A nineteen year old could get $2, on up to $7.50 for a fourteen year old… more if particularly “perverted” sex was wanted. And the one posting the notice offered any Negro man $5 for “delivering” a suitable companion to him.
Want to consider something creepy? I’ll bet if two little WHITE boys were caught playing a kissing game with a little black girl in North Carolina in 1958, they would not have gone to reform school. In fact, I’ll bet if two teen white Southern boys were accused of raping a teenage black girl, there might well not even be a police investigation. Because as far as I can tell from the documentation I’ve found on the topic, throughout the South “white male on black female” rape was basically accepted throughout history and seldom brought any penalty. In fact, in slave days, if you were a plantation owner, you (or perhaps your son, or nephew) got more than just a night of sex. In nine months you a might well get a newborn “field hand” without having to pay the auction price.
And in the 1950s, I cannot possibly imagine a black girl in a Southern town, say deep down in Mississippi, successfully accusing the son of the local sheriff or judge or wealthy businessman of rape. Much less accuse the sheriff or judge or businessman HIMSELF of rape.
It was the “Southern Heritage,” don’tcha know.
With this definition of “Race Mixing” in mind, let’s summarize the repetitious content on many of the signs carried by white protesters at anti-integration gatherings. Typical claims include:
- Race Mixing (the assumed ultimate result of integration) is Communism
- The Devil is behind integration…which again leads to Race Mixing.
- Communists—and often “Communist Jews”–are behind Race Mixing
- God demands segregation
- The Bible condemns integration: it is a sin
And finally …
- The Negro should be sent back to Africa
So—Come let us reason together. Did all those hate-filled white housewives, and white Rebel Boys protesting with their Rebel Flags…
…and Southerners from all walks of life in general just independently come up with the same themes over and over by sitting around and meditating—or even reading the Bible on their own? I find that highly unlikely.
I think it very safe to assume, just as is true today, the “average man on the street” doesn’t really form his own detailed opinions on controversial topics just from reasoning and contemplation. He gets them ready-made from outside sources, secular and religious. Newspaper editorials, political pamphlets, religious tracts, magazine articles, radio programs, sermons, and more no doubt “fed” the anti-integration movement’s front line workers such as those mommas and grandmas who ranted and brandished signs in front of Ruby Bridges’ school.
And I herewith offer you some documentation of very specific written material from that time period that may very well have been influential with some of those protesters. This material is in no way unique—I am sure that the same themes were available from many other authors. But the dogmatic pontifications below by two separate authors certainly line up with the points made in the list above.
(The underlining in these quotes has been added to point out the connection to protest messages in the photos above. The ALL CAPS were used by the original authors of these quotes as their own method of emphasis.)
America is falling victim today to the Communist propaganda of MIXING THE RACES, contrary to God’s commands! God Himself scattered the races at the tower of Babel. God decreed they shall remain segregated until the end of this world, and the coming of Christ.
[3. Communists are behind race-mixing; 4. God demands segregation]
Communism stands for amalgamation of the races , until there will be but one race again. They disseminate this propaganda among the Negroes of America. Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt has fallen under this delusion, and other public leaders have started a trend in America which makes segregation, which God COMMANDS, appear to be sinful and evil, and which makes a mixing of races, which GOD CONDEMNS, appear to be Christian and good! This has nothing to do with race superiority or racial discrimination. God condemns racial discrimination, but commands racial segregation. There’s a vast difference! Today people confuse the two as though they were the same!
[1. Race Mixing is Communism; 4. God demands segregation; 5. The Bible condemns integration—it is a sin.]
Specimen # 2
Idealists and social “do-gooders,” without realizing it, have become helpless tools in the hands of communist propagandists inciting RACE WAR in the name of the BROTHERHOOD OF MAN! It is time we fully realize the tremendous implications lying behind the communist cloak of “HUMAN BROTHERHOOD.” Western civilization is at stake! Communist propaganda stirring up racial strife masquerades under the guise of a Christian-sounding name—” the brotherhood of man.” But where did this doctrine of “the brotherhood of man” originate?
The people of this world are not brothers spiritually BECAUSE THEY DO NOT HAVE GOD FOR THEIR SPIRITUAL FATHER! The Bible nowhere teaches that all men from birth are spiritually brothers. Most men are ENEMIES of one another! Then where did the doctrine that all men are spiritually and racially brothers come from? Out of Moscow. And apostate Christianity.
And no wonder. For all who are a part of this world-whether they are atheistic communists or professing Christians—have one father, the devil, and hence are in a sense brothers. Jesus said so!
The doctrine of the universal brotherhood of man and the Fatherhood of God is nowhere found in the Bible.
… After the Negro was freed from slavery, America could have solved the whole race question by providing a home in Africa and putting all Negroes back on their rightful, God-given inheritance. Because the nation failed to solve the problem then, we have had nothing but trouble!
…The whole problem would have been solved if the Negroes had been restored to their rightful inheritance in Africa.
… If the South and the North would have recognized, after the Civil War, the importance of geographic segregation and would have practiced it—as God, ordained in the first place—there would have been no discrimination against the Negro. The Negro should have been returned to his rightful inheritance in Africa, just as Egypt should have returned the enslaved Israelites to Palestine under Moses.
[2. The Devil is behind integration; 6. The Negro should be sent back to Africa.]
The author of the first piece above was well-known radio and television evangelist, and founder of the Radio Church of God (name changed to Worldwide Church of God in 1968) Herbert W. Armstrong. Along with producing Armstrong’s widely-heard “World Tomorrow” radio program, Armstrong’s organization published the Plain Truth magazine as a general evangelistic magazine offered to the public, and the Good News magazine which was circulated to the Church’s membership. Number 1 above was published in the November 1957 edition of the Good News magazine in an article titled “Why Is America Cursed?”
This was barely three years after the Brown v Board of Education ruling, and before the major efforts by the US government to press the issue of integration in the South had begun. It was before the protests in New Orleans over Ruby Bridges, before the protests in Little Rock over the Little Rock Nine, before the Freedom Riders, before the major “sit-in”movement, before the March on Washington, before the March on Selma. Evidently Herbert Armstrong was very determined to inoculate his own followers, especially any Negroes within his organization, against any inclination to “be persuaded by the Commies to Mix the Races.”
Why is this particularly significant to me? Because I became a member of that organization in early 1968, just after the name change to the Worldwide Church of God. I received the member’s Good News magazine monthly for almost a decade. I listened to the organization’s World Tomorrow program on the radio every day, heard Herbert W Armstrong deliver bombastic sermons in person at national conventions of the organization. I eventually broke free of involvement, and renounced much of what I had been taught, especially on such topics as the relation between true Christianity and social justice.
But when I look back on my years of involvement, I am mystified how I ever bought in even partially to such teachings. It helps me to realize that no matter how sincere one is (I was desperately sincere in wanting to serve God to the best of my ability); no matter how educated one is (I had a degree in Education with high honor, and graduate work, from a major US university); no matter how logical one is under normal circumstances (I got A+ grades in college level Logical Reasoning classes); no matter how loving one is (I really wanted to live the Golden Rule)… it is still possible to be totally blinded by Super Salesmen. Including hucksters of “Religious Truth.”
So how about that second piece of anti-integration material above?
The author of the second piece was a young minister/writer in Armstrong’s organization named Herman Hoeh. The excerpt is from Hoeh’s article “The Race Question” published in the April, 1957 edition of the Plain Truth magazine. I’ve been unable to get circulation figures for the Plain Truth for 1957, but by January 1963 its circulation was listed at 400,000 copies per month. Since most magazines in homes are read by two, three, or more readers, it was likely “reaching” close to a million readers by 1963. By the end of 1969, circulation was over 2,000,000 and readership perhaps twice that…or more.
Thus, although there were no doubt many other religious and secular authors beating the anti-integration drum in the 50s and 60s, the publications of Herbert W. Armstrong definitely had a potential effect on the attitudes of many in the US on controversial topics such as integration and Civil Rights.
Note the end of the excerpt above by Herman Hoeh:
The Negro should have been returned to his rightful inheritance in Africa…
And since he had not been…
Because the nation failed to solve the problem then, we have had nothing but trouble!
Both articles make it clear that the solution to “the Race Problem” in America cannot be social integration of any kind—because that is condemned by God. So were these Radio Church of God authors suggesting that the US ought to send the Negroes in America “back to Africa” now?
No, no … of course not. That would be silly. In 1957 the US population was about 170 million, and the “non-white” population (the vast majority of which was no doubt Negro) was about 18 million. The physical logistics of trying to…ahem…essentially deport 10% of the population would be too complicated in the 20th century.
No, the Good News and Plain Truth authors of the Radio Church of God didn’t expect the US government to figure out a how to manage such a feat. So what did they expect?
The complete collection of Plain Truth magazines, from its founding by Armstrong in 1934 until his death in 1986, are all on the Web now, as is a complete topical index of all articles that appeared in the magazine. So I have been able to read all of them which addressed the “Race Problem.” And I now know the “rest of the story”! (I had learned and read some of these things long ago when involved in the Radio/Worldwide Church of God. But after almost 40 years out of the organization, my memory of exactly what HAD been taught in the 50s and 60s and 70s had grown very dim. I must admit I am startled today to see just how blatantly racist and in-your-face much of the teaching had been.)
According to Armstrong’s teachings, to both the public and his own followers, the Negroes of 1957 who wished to be blessed by God were to just avoid all involvement in any sort of efforts at social integration; reject participation in the Civil Rights movement; be submissive (to LOCAL laws…even when those laws were contrary to US law) and patient, maintaining the pre-1954 status quo. If they did so, God Himself would very soon see that the situation would be taken care of, and they would be blessed for their willingness to “wait on Him” to rescue them from their plight!
This sounds too good to be true. How was God supposedly going to accomplish this?
The amazing answer to that troubling question is explored in the next entry in this series:
Before you go, I invite you to experience the cognitive dissonance of watching and hearing Louisiana Governor Davis cheerily perform You Are My Sunshine…both in the 40s and over fifty years later. This little “documentary” video of him (linked below his sunny picture here), by the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, shows him singing in the 1940s—AND in 2000 at age 101! And has lots of cheery photos of him stumping for governor, appearing in “singing cowboy” B-movies in the 1940s, sitting on his horse Sunshine, and much more.
I’m pretty sure you won’t find any black faces in any of the cheery clips though…He may have been “The Sunshine Governor” for the white population of Louisiana, but he brought no sunshine to Ruby Bridges and the other Negroes of Louisiana.