port of harlem magazine
ivan brown realty
January 20, 2021 Should Not Be 1863 All Over Again
January 14, 2021 – January 27, 2021
nathan richardson

confederate flag in the US Capitol

Excerpt from the Leavenworth (Kansas) Times published in 1860: “Armed pro-slavery militias streamed into Kansas from neighboring slave state Missouri to disrupt territorial elections. They stuffed ballot boxes, intimidated voters, threatened candidates, and in at least one instance, kidnapped and killed a free-state candidate for the territorial legislature.”

Fast forward to 1987 and you might be able to find an editorial that I wrote to the editor of the Suffolk (Virginia) News Herald. As an army staff sergeant supervising the National Guard armory in that city, I pushed back at the then leader of the Suffolk NAACP who wanted to take down a Confederate flag hanging on the wall in the building.

That action on its face might seem like a contradiction to my character. However, my argument with him and the intent of my letter to the editor was to say:  We should be spending our energy to end the ideology not just take down the symbols. On the very day he stood before my desk, a bulldozer was breaking ground on a new shopping center on White Marsh Road on the west end of town, next door to the Cypress Manor public housing complex.
Such experiences continue to force me to look beyond the symbols and to look at the ideologies and the way we react to them.
In addition to a much needed grocery store, they were also including a Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) store in the shopping strip. I’m sure you can visualize the picture of someone pouring gasoline on a fire.

History has proven me right. The community under the direct influence of alcohol, suffered long term negative consequences.

Nevertheless, following community agitation, the ABC store closed, the same grocery story is 2.5 miles away, and the shopping center stands almost empty today. Such experiences continue to force me to look beyond the symbols and to look at the ideologies and the way we react to them.

The double standard of how we deal with race, and symbols and ideology is clear. America rails against those who kneel when the National Anthem is played but are silent about those who fly the Confederate flag in their yards and place them on bumpers stickers on their cars. They revere generals who fought against the country and dismiss those who fought and died defending it.

The constitution “they” claim to stand for means nothing even after Democrat and Republican appointed judges on The Supreme Court dismiss their claims of a fraudulent election. I do not believe such people are Republican or Conservative. All the facts of history and present events prove the primary participants in this 2021 insurrection are in fact CONFEDERATES. And, for the first time in American history, a rebel carrying a Confederate flag ran through the capitol building of the United States of America. 

In real-time, movies, on television. and now in video games, America has a long history of glorifying rebels and bad men: gunslingers, mafia bosses, and as of late - thug life! Shouldn’t we expect a criminal after losing 20 years of freedom in a penitentiary, return to society, and establish a post narrative of how he went wrong? Then, why would we grant him freedom and allow him to make a living by creating a new generation of criminal disciples? 
For those so daring to make a claim of independence from the established government – remember - history only awards the title of patriot to winners!
I do not believe it serves the common good to hide the dark history a person or a nation. That would allow someone headed down that same road to make the same mistake. Creating a narrative that the dark road was an enlightened path is equally dangerous for future generations. Likewise, dangerous is the idea that the Confederacy was a noble cause or the romantic narrative that the South will rise again.

They claim patriotism. And, while it is true that the Declaration of Independence grants citizens the right to overthrow an oppressive government, history sets the standard. For those so daring to make a claim of independence from the established government – remember - history only awards the title of patriot to winners!

Losers are branded rebels. Confederates lost the American Civil War in 1863.

They lost their fight against Civil Rights a hundred years later in 1963. They lost the 2020 election. Their insurrection on January 6 was a miserable and embarrassing failure.

Hopefully, the inauguration on January 20, 2021 will mark the beginning of a 21st century reconstruction and the completion of the one thwarted after the Civil War. Prayerfully, we will enjoy another 200 years of democracy moving forward to the elusive goal of a more perfect union.

From Our Archives:  See The Hidden Black History of the Electoral College as historian CR Gibbs explains the relationship between the 1876 presidential election, the Electoral College, the Compromise of 1877, and the dreadful end of Reconstruction I (1865-1877).

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