Just as it did in 2000 and 2004 the Democratic Party is preparing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
It did this in 2000 by choosing Senator Joe Lieberman as Vice President Al Gore's running mate. It did it again in 2004 by choosing charisma-challenged John Kerry as its candidate rather than strong anti-Iraq-war retired General Wesley Clark as its candidate against President Bush. Now, in 2008, it is preparing to choose Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton or Senator Barack Obama to run against John McCain. If it had chosen let's say, Senator Joe Biden, as its candidate, a 2008 election victory would be a sure thing. Instead the Democrats have made a conscious decision to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
The best definition of Black History that I am aware of is a statement made by journalist/historian, Lerone Bennett, Jr., in a 1981 Ebony Magazine article, "Why Black History Is Important To You." Wrote Bennett, "People are always telling me that they are too busy making the future to bother with the past. But people who say this give up on both the future and the past … The past is not something back there; it is happening now. It is a bet your fathers placed, which you must now cover …" Ask yourself if you are now covering the bet that your ancestors placed.
In recognition of Black History Month, the following observations are presented for you to learn from and act on:
Carter G. Woodson: "In the schools of business administration, Negroes are trained excessively in the psychology and economics of Wall Street and are, therefore, made to despise the opportunities to run ice wagons, push banana carts and sell peanuts among their own people. Foreigners who have not studied economics, but have studied Negroes, take up this business and grow rich."
Mary McLeod Bethune, in her last will and testament:
"I leave you (Black people) the challenge of developing confidence in one another. This kind of confidence will aid the economic rise of the race by bringing together the pennies and dollars of our people and plowing them into useful channels."
I. Garland Penn, in the introduction to his 1891 book, "The Afro-American Press and Its Editors":
"The object in putting forth this feeble effort is not for the praise of men or for the reaping of money, but to promote the future welfare of Afro-American journalism by telling to its constituents the story of its heroic labors in their behalf. As I have said in my circular to editors, Jan. 1, 1890, so say I now: 'I believe that the greatest reason why our papers are not better supported is because the Afro-Americans do not sufficiently comprehend the responsibilities and magnitude of the work.' If the eyes of my people shall be opened to see the Afro-American Press as it is, and as it labors with the greatest sacrifice, I shall feel that Providence has blessed my work and that I have been amply rewarded. This volume may find its way to the cottage of the lowly and humble, the home of the scholar and the hands of the critic. I would invite its earnest perusal by each and all, and, at the same time, pray your most lenient criticism of its make-up, construction and thought. I would ask you to speak a good word of it, not in the hope of placing honor upon my head or the dime in my pocket, but in the hope of forming a favorable sentiment and creating an able and constant support for the Afro-American editor whose labor unites with all in building up and furthering the interest of our common country."
These ancestors not only talked the talk, they walked the walk. They were activists. They and others like them placed the bet that Lerone Bennett wrote about that we must now cover. Too many of us in 2008 are not doing so.
A. Peter Bailey is the former editor of "Blacklash," the publication of Malcolm X's Organization for Afro-American Unity.