[eDebate] MLK never said...

Old Strega oldstrega
Mon Nov 3 21:53:26 CST 2008

obama supposedly attended many jeremiah wright sermons over decades.  to be in that crowd, you'd have to have heard of bakhufu, rogers and vaughn and the role of black people in world history.   you'd think.    screw the media.   how come obama ain't the one claiming he's the 6th black president.   i bet if malcolm x had been elected president he wouldn't claim to be the first black president.     i bet malcolm x would have told white folks that they were denying black people their 5 presidents as part of their campaign to deny black people their role in world history (vaughn).

if i'm bigoted to cite the 5 previous black presidents at this historical juncture then so is professor leroy vaughn claiming obama is the 6th black president.   

the question is: how come obama refuses to tell his own people's story?  
the next question is: how come so many people want or need obama to be the first black president despite evidence that he is not?

the only argument you have is that obama is the first black president to be seen in a positive light and that he is the first black president to be known to be black by the majority of citizens.

i agree most likely jefferson and jackson were not socially constructed black presidents but i do think there is an argument that lincoln, coolidge and harding were known to be black and possibly by many people if not a majority.    especially lincoln given the political cartoons and the attempt of his opponents to make sure as many people knew lincoln was black as possible.

the opposition did characterize lincoln negatively as abraham africanus, the first, but many racists also characterize obama negatively.       i think it's highly likely that in order to discredit lincoln the opposition spread rumors far and wide that lincoln looked black and had black parents.   hence, africanus.     i see no evidence in the historical record to discourage that possibility.   if so, i think many people who voted for lincoln may have voted for him because he was black and because he did represent emancipation.    particularly, i think there is a likelihood that black people who could not vote knew lincoln was black and saw him in a positive light.

i have focused on lincoln but also coolidge and harding did not deny their ancestry and more people may have known their blackness than people today would like to believe.   


President Warren Harding, the 29th president, in office between 1921 and 1923, apparently never denied his ancestry. According to Vaughn, William Chancellor, a professor of economics and politics at Wooster College in Ohio, wrote a book on the Harding family genealogy. Evidently, Harding had black ancestors between both sets of parents. Chancellor also said that Harding attended Iberia College, a school founded to educate fugitive slaves.

Coolidge, the nation's 30th president, served between 1923 and 1929 and supposedly was proud of his heritage. He claimed his mother was dark because of mixed Indian ancestry. Coolidge's mother's maiden name was "Moor" and in Europe the name "Moor" was given to all blacks just as "Negro" was used in America. It later was concluded that Coolidge was part black.  end quote.

my intuition is that,given what we have been taught in school, the radical black histories of the 1960s which retraced the genealogies of 5 presidents back to significant black ancestry are difficult to swallow.    even more difficult is the idea that the race of at least one of those black presidents was common knowledge which is an idea even more at odds with the stories told in school.     

i do think obama should stop overhyping his place in black history and contextualize his presidency.    even if he is the first socially constructed black president which is debatable that doesn't mean obama is off the hook for ignoring bakhufu, rogers and vaughn and pretending he's never heard about the 5 black presidents.   the whole thing wreaks of opportunism and cultural amnesia.    i guess i'm bigoted to challenge the 6th black president on his place in history and not allowing the climax of the glorious inauguration to go uncontested.

> Date: Mon, 3 Nov 2008 10:59:34 -0500
> From: akelsie at gmail.com
> To: oldstrega at hotmail.com
> Subject: Re: [eDebate] MLK never said...
> CC: edebate at ndtceda.com
> you dont think you're an ahistorical revisionist?
> just saying...
> you just emailed out that there were six black presidents, with the
> overt assumption that that means that those (potentially) black
> presidents were identified as black and experienced blackness in
> mostly a similar way to today, and that societies experienced their
> blackness in some way remotely similar to today, without any
> discussion or insight whatsoever into the national context, or better
> yet, the status of race relations of those time periods.  Seems to me
> like someone's got a pretty static notion of history himself, not to
> mention very obviously has a static notion of what it means to be
> black in America.
> i mean, Beethoven was black, and nobody knows that "fact," but that
> doesn't make him black in the same way that R. Kelly is (sorry for the
> terrible musical comparison).
> I feel like there are a billion ways to articulate how the racial
> environment of Andrew Jackson or Abraham Lincoln - especially in terms
> of "drops" of blackness - were distinctively different than from
> today.  Things like blackface (at least in Lincolns time) both prove
> that people had no sense of having "black presidents" but rather put
> blackness onto "bad whites," and also - that many had a not-talked
> about sense that everyone was sorta kinda a little maybe black.  But
> blackface, and other cultural methods/rituals/common beliefs were
> promoted to sustain a white purity - one drop rule political
> environment (a purging of bad blood if you will), and to reaffirm that
> white=good, black=bad.  Read some books on that shit.  I'm pretty sure
> the state of the world today indicates that neither Andrew Jackson'
> nor Abraham Lincoln's celebration or non-celebration of blackness did
> much to overcome that (the civil war notwithstanding).
> How about how it's probably at the very least intellectually
> short-sighted to assume and project that just because we are able to
> take accounts today of the supposed blackness of famous peoples in the
> past doesn't make it common knowledge at particular time in history -
> furthermore, whether or not people in some circles fessed up to it
> seems to have little standing, especially given bad forms of
> communication.  how about a little more academic integrity.  Not to
> mention the fact that people with the power to write history as it
> happens (or doesn't happen) already informs how you go back and
> re-write that past (Beethoven is a good example) from within your
> present.
> I highly doubt that you are going to find for me a president that ran
> "as a black candidate"  or that was assumed (not just by some southern
> bigots who africanized every enemy they had) to be black by the vast
> majority of the country.  In fact, just being able to write this
> requires so much distanciation simply because of the extreme
> offensiveness (and I'm not afraid of that word either, probably
> emotions betray an important aspect of thinking)  I feel over the fact
> that you just implied that black people had it good enough that they
> could freely be president, and while slavery was in full force no
> less.  I guess we weren't oppressed after all!  That truly is the
> logical limit of the crap you are espousing.
> How about that for ahistorical revisionism.
> The phenomenon of passing is commonplace in black history.  But you
> seem to have really found a way ,i suppose an ingenious way, to
> manipulate that phenomenon for your own not-so-subtle bigoted ends.
> Passing, did not mean that NO ONE knew your "true identity."  It meant
> that you were able to walk the world without "people" knowing.  A
> well-guarded secret.  And besides, one that generally would not have
> been believed anyway in the right circles.  It's generally hard for
> people with power to imagine that they've been duped or their most
> dearly held myths shattered.
> But really, I think the "truthfulness" of the "facts" you and Dr.
> Vaughn seem so bent on (and for very different reasons, which I'll get
> to below), are actually completely irrelevant to what's really going
> on here and how this is or is not useful to imagining and formulating
> "good" politics, much less in determining why or why not Obama is good
> candidate.
> The media seems important to you:
> First - it may be that the media has in some way (and yes - the media
> is totally fucked, but the way you talk about it is very similar to
> the way that stormfront or the national alliance talks about
> Jew-controlled media.  You scare me.) "repressed" or more likely
> simply chosen not to promote and air the beliefs by some academics
> that there "really were" other black presidents.  This may be due to
> many reasons, let me throw out three:
> 1) Many many people have little grasp of what is a good way or,
> especially in things like media, a "right" way to handle issues
> concerning race.  Therefore they would rather leave it alone, or
> sensationalize it.  They don't want to be the bad guys, and media
> especially abhors controversy that they cant control, channel, and
> profit from.
> 2) They don't even know that people write stuff like this.  It's not
> very "normal" for this country to have very smart or deep
> conversations concerning race, much less to read anything about the
> history of blackness in this country.  You see this issue as
> inherently tied to the election because you want to tell liberals (or
> maybe just obama supporters? actually in all your rants, I can't tell
> who your real beef is with) that they are the "true racists."
> CNN on the other hand doesn't know about Dr. Vaughn and couldn't care
> less b/c they don't share your liberal/race-card-busting agenda.  (You
> seem to see that as the most awful evilest thing, and talk about it as
> if that value-judgment were self-evident.  It's not.)
> 3) People simply don't care, because even without knowing the
> "truthfulness" of the claim that some presidents have African
> ancestors, it seems apparent that it has little bearing on the either
> the state of race today, or the state of race in this election, or the
> election proper.
> Will it help me contemplate my past and my history?  Sure probably.
> Will it destroy my sense of this as being a watershed moment?
> Absolutely not.  Because that past non-history (even assuming its
> factual-ness)  simply does not denigrate the amazing phenomenon we are
> all witness to today.  Obama is not simply the first black
> presidential candidate to make it this far simply because he controls
> all the media in the world and is the anti-christ with unimaginable
> powers of persuasion.  No.  People - whether true or not - whether
> black or white - do not have any sense that a black president can or
> could be elected.  The xenophobia in this country is out of control,
> this particular election bringing it out into the open "on main
> street" in a big way, promoted, not just by race-baiting Obama, but
> yea, by McCain and his overtly xenophobic advertisements that paint
> Obama (as you have also painted him) as
> Foreigner/Muslim/Terrorist/Black/Not-So-Black Bad Man.  And this shit
> is damn important.  Period.
> It's really that simple.
> I agree with you that Obama is not the messiah.  He probably gets away
> with a lot b/c of racial politics.  I doubt he gets away with any more
> than McCain does, but you and most of us are so used to seeing white
> people get shit, it's really hard to recognize favors even when they
> stare you in the face.  It may be worthwhile to go back and re-write
> black people into history, especially since their removal was the
> result of a lot of racist knowledge production, but to do so with the
> intent of writing Obama's historic run out of history is truly... sad.
>  To chalk up why we care to simple emotion (as you tell Josh) is
> really selling everyone short.  You seem to really hate on the
> "circular xenophobia" of X-ist (liberal?) theory, but it seems like
> your only way to really prove that is to pit the good liberal
> intellectual pursuits against their very ends.  That is, historical
> revisionism (or ie - the liberal/progressive project of writing Others
> into history) is noble - (or maybe to you it's not and you're just
> using this academic to get your jollies off) - but it's goal is to
> rectify endless years of cultural oppressions.  Denying a history
> therefore, seems to be something worth interrogating.  But to do so
> with the intent of denying that very history in the present, is slimy.
>  That is your politics.
> I notice you keep talking to people as if this were a debate, which to
> me it seems to clearly not be.  So please spare me on that front.  But
> for the sake of good honest intellectual discussion, I can see the
> value in discussing why Obama is not this and is not that.  I can see
> the value in interrogating why it may be that so many people honestly
> do seem to think he is the messiah (although even those statements
> seem to come with a grain of salt.)  But you want to deny that this
> moment is significant?  Now you've clearly lost it.  That is not
> education, it is not helpful in formulating a politics, you just
> engage in the exact same production of a knowledge designed to write
> black people out of history as the people that (supposedly) wrote
> jefferson, jackson, lincoln, harding, coolige out of history.  Thanks!
> A few more things:
> 1) Moors were not black in the way that Black Americans are (Beethoven
> again - he was a moor).  You can look at many blackness readings of
> Othello to see the difference.
> 2) Claiming Indian ancestry is not the same as claiming black
> ancestry.  It may be that your Dr. Vaughn has a little revisionism of
> his own.  Which I actually don't doubt, but I'd have to read him I
> suppose before I blew up that claim.
> 3) My great-aunt proves anything you say about "oh everyone knew they
> were black" pretty wrong.
> 4) You evidence says opposite things.  Or rather your evidence doesn't
> support your claims.  Whatever link you put up says that those
> presidents never revealed their ancestry.
> 5) This post below wasn't really the one that got me going.
> On Tue, Oct 28, 2008 at 9:55 PM, Old Strega  wrote:
>> pull-out of vietnam, redeploy to cuba.
>> he just said -- pull out of vietnam, war is bad.
>> obama is a fucking fraud parlaying mass media confusion.'
>> the war in afghanistan is bush's old war, bush's old bad idea.
>> in my opininon, given MLK's commitment to non-violence and the strength of his far superior rhetoric to chump boy obama, MLK would be in the streets fighting the afghan war just like he fought against vietam.
>> to characterize MLK's resistance to vietnam as "you got the wrong war, whitey" and not "war is wrong" is typical of the poorly educated masses of our day who wouldn't know their asses from their mouths.
>> tuna, bear and sanchez are my favorite ones amongst the ahistorical revisionists who would love to identify obama's stance on iraq adopted from brzezinski with MLK's commitment to non-violence and opposition to all imperial wars.
>> it's the biggest pile of shit i've ever seen.
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