It's Old Hate in New Skin

by Tsuhai Nzinga

April 12, 1864, 40 miles north of Memphis, TN, Fort Pillow was held by 600 Union troops among whom were “sections of the 2nd US Colored Light Artillery and a battalion from the 6th US Colored Heavy Artillery. Fort Pillow had been abandoned by the Confederates when Memphis fell to Union forces. Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Tennessee native and a Confederate General set his sights on the Fort commanding an estimated 1,500 troops. Forrest demanded the surrender of the Union soldiers who were clearly outnumbered. While history claims a controversy on whether the Union soldiers surrendered or not, there is no disputing the fact that some 300, majority Black Union soldiers died that day. Nathan Bedford Forrest would later become the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Fort Pillow is now the site of a State park.



It was old hate.



May 31, 1921, 100 years after the birth of Nathan Bedford Forrest, amid allegations of a Black man raping a white woman, white mobs descended on Black Wall Street in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, OK. And for three days reigned hell, destroying the entire community, leaving thousands homeless and 300 dead.



It was old hate in new skin.



In 1866, Ellis Harper, leader of the Partisan Raider guerillas during the Civil War, conducted a “perfect reign of terror” on Tennesseans, Black and white who dared “entertain Union sentiments.” Harper and “powerful band…perpetrate[d] outrages so numerous and revolting as to strike terror to all…unprotected citizens” and in 1866, “unprotected” meant Black people.



It was old hate.



May 3, 1963, almost 100 years after Harper’s “perfect reign of terror,” Birmingham’s Bull Connor ordered dogs and water cannons to attack a thousand student protestors. After 2 days of protests, more than 3,000 students had been arrested.



It was old hate in new skin.



In 1871 a Congressional Joint Committee held hearings to ascertain the threat level of the Ku Klux Klan. Taking testimony from hundreds of people both Black and white, they gathered thirteen volumes of testimony from 6 Southern states. Their summary, compiled in Volume I of the series is more than 600 pages. While testimony revealed a secret organization numbering 550,000 members who reigned terror on the Freedmen, the Supreme Court would nullify the laws that outlawed and punished Klan activity saying that the Constitution protected their rights; the Constitution had not, however, granted those rights, but because the rights were deemed “protected” by the Court, the Federal government had no authority to enforce any protection for citizens terrorized by the Klan, as it was determined to be within the States’ Rights domain.



It was old hate wrapped in legal protection.



Almost 100 years later in 1967, the Supreme Court created the legal doctrine “qualified immunity.” This legal standard allowed public officials, especially police officers, to escape liability for violating the Constitutional rights of citizens.



It was old hate in new skin wrapped in legal protection.



Michael Brown; Treyvon Martin; Philando Castille; Alton Sterling; Terrence Crutcher; Samuel Dubose; Sandra Bland; Atatiana Jefferson; Breonna Taylor.



The officers and citizens who shot and killed these unarmed Freedmen and Freedwomen either faced no charges or were acquitted by a jury of their peers.



It’s old hate in new skin.



It was 1877, 12 of the 13 states of secession had “redeemed” themselves from Republican and Negro rule. The Democrats, party of Southern whites, were taking the South back! There was a contested presidential election. In a back door deal, the Republicans retained the presidency on condition of ending Reconstruction and removing Federal troops from the States of secession, thus, ushering in Jim Crow segregation.



It was old hate.



More than 100 years later in 2008, America elected its first ever, bona fide Black man as president. Eight years later, America set about “redeeming” itself from what the KKK of old called “negro rule.”



It’s old hate in new skin.


And today we have ample evidence provided by the FBI and numerous investigative articles that White Supremacists have “infiltrated” America’s police and armed forces as well as all levels of government. We have ample evidence that White Supremacists are inciting and perpetrating violence during Black Lives Matter protests and rallies, and we have the President of these “United” States supporting them.



“Make America Great Again”

“If Obama and Biden hadn’t done such a bad job, I wouldn’t have had to run for president.”

“Drain the swamp”

“There’s good people on both sides”

“I terminated regulations that would bring projects and crime to Suburbia.”

“Stand back and stand by.”

“Kamala will not be your first female president…We’re not going to have it. We’re not going to put up with it.”



And in the words of the KKK of 1868, “even if we are forced, by force, to use force.”



It’s old hate in new skin seeking “redemption” from Negro rule.





In 'Stony The Road,' Henry Louis Gates Jr. Looks At The Period After Reconstruction

Tsuhai Nzinga

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Copyright 2020 Cynthia Alease Smith, Ed.D.