Sometimes a minister’s influence beyond normal congregational practices extends to the African American section of a given community as a purely ethnic group rather than merely a religious group. Control within African American segments is a practice long in application historically.
Unfortunately, this facet of black history is held entirely in disdain by most whites, particularly those of a racist bent.
While bloc voting by race has often been a weapon for expanding rights for African Americans, it has just as often been used by leaders more concerned with promulgating their own personal agendas rather than freedoms for their ethnic group. That aspect often sours all voters of fairer leanings and practices.
ONCE, I was covering a so-called “brotherhood” breakfast at a black church, pastored by an influential leader in the community. This minister professed to be my “friend” but I knew he owed his soul to a white political leader and delivered lots of votes. But, a friend of the minister — an aging white doctor who many regarded as a saint, not the least in such an opinion was the doctor himself — shocked me when, in the midst of his “brotherhood speech,” he whirled and pointed to me where I stood with my camera near the end of the head table, and said something about “trusting enemies like this man…”
It made no sense as I had steadfastly promoted equal rights, brotherhood and peace and had dramatically increased news and photo coverage of previously ignored black news and events. This doctor was actually incensed because I made no bones about a newspaper supporting the public hospital, which he fought constantly. We, of course, supported in stories and editorials the idea of free enterprise and the doctor’s hospital as well. His idea of “fair” was what he, as the public- AND self-anointed saint and martyr, deemed right: his hospital and his only.
Both blacks and whites in attendance knew my record and my steadily maintained editorials on equal rights. The preacher looked like the sell-out fool he was.
AFTERWARDS, I received unnecessary words of apology from a majority of people, excepting of course the host minister, the white doctor and an officeholder they supported.
There are all too many such political partnerships, between white officeholders and black leaders, which are forged with very specific goals. These ultimately unholy unions have come about in the name of advancing rights for blacks. Often, however, an intended parallel result is the cementing of selfish officials’ terms in office and, thus, their very real grip on power.
That elixir almost always proves intoxicating enough so as to encourage tactics designed wholly to promulgate individual power. With such political backing, particularly influential white office holders can use that power to “trade” for bloc votes.
This is, of course, an individual opinion but one influenced by a tightly- and carefully-woven East Texas and Southern blanket of voting dominance. Generally, in small towns of the aforementioned regions, the African American population is in the majority or close enough that micro-managed voting can be wielded to produce the power structure’s desired results. Oddly enough, most of those elected are white.
One natural follow in such a progression is that the party of dominance ever since the late 1800s in those areas is the Democratic Party and the vast majority of African Americans, who are often poor and disenfranchised, feel that is their only choice
PART OF the largesse of such power is the capacity to hire black people for secure jobs and to increase the A-A influence to the point of consistent control.
Black preachers are usually in the forefront of any and all such efforts. Since before slavery ended in this country, the influence by religion on African Americans and their political choices has been consistently exercised and felt.
Those churlish whites that vote anti-black regularly feel the sting of bitter defeat. Often, enough whites sit at home on election day that blacks voting in a bloc constitute a majority and elect the candidates of their choice, poor selections or not.
Ideally, we would have candidates of all colors and would be judged as a worthy or a poor choice based solely on their qualifications and on their stand on the issues rather than by the color of their skin.
I hope I live to see the day when it is universal.
Willis Webb is a retired community newspaper editor-publisher of more than 50 years experience. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.