“In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”.
With this words, George Corley Wallace, Jr. standing on the gold star marking the spot where, in 1861, Jefferson Davis (was sworn in as President of the break away, Confederate States of America), was sworn in as the governor of Alabama in 1963.Of the many personalities that stood against the emergence of the ‘dark skin’ man in the American society and vehemently advanced the supremacy of the ‘white skin’ and the principle of segregation or ‘apartheid’ in the 21st century, George Corley Wallace, Jr stood out like a colossus ,indeed. In his time, he was an unrepentant leviathan, a mastodon, an embodiment of unfathomable zeal against the Black race being accorded the dignity of a ‘being’ as a MAN. However, Wallace did not walk alone like the mythical behemoth; he was like most white southerners (in the United States) and Europeans of his generation, who genuinely believed that the Blacks are a separate, inferior race.
But, unbeknown to him or any of his ilk, the world was at a cross road of history and the Rubicon had be crossed with no going back, the tide against racism was blowing strong, and throwing into the sea of forgetfulness every one that stood against the tide of time. And hence, the 1960s became a turning point in the history of the world. The greatest pools of fair men since the time of Abraham Lincoln were ‘born’ into reckoning of time, history and destiny; John F. Kennedy on one hand, Rosa Park and Martin Luther King on the other. Men and armies were standing on equal terms to stand up for justice and egalitarian society, where no man is judge by the colour of his skin. These men, armed with the truth, justice and faith would eventually change the course of history.
Men were never made by mere accident, situations, circumstances, or vicissitudes of life – all over history, ‘the unseen hands’ have always determined the course of man. Providence has always provided the means, the ends and timing. And so, it was with these men. Generations after them would eventually grow up to invoke their spirits, principles and words. All over American history, since the time of the triangular trade, when a conservative estimate of about 12 million Africans were shipped from the coasts of West Africa to the “New World’ in 1492, the Black Africans who suffered such ignominy and their offsprings that came after them, generation to generations after, were termed and regarded as-‘cartels’, ‘three fourths’ of man, to use the words of Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of America, and the writer of the American Declaration of Independence. The men that established the United States never regarded a Blackman as ‘MAN’, hence he was never considered as a part of – the American ‘We the people’. He was not a ‘people’ but a property, a beast of burden, and as a property, a beast of burden he was treated, until 1860.
In 1860, a man who was an outspoken voice against the expansion of slavery in the United States, a man who all his life, had been dogged with reverse fortunes was elected the President of the United States by providence- Abraham Lincoln. It was he, who in 1863, issued the Emancipation Proclamation and promoted the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States’ constitution, abolishing slavery in the constituting states of the United States. In fulfillment of the prophesy of Thomas Jefferson that ‘Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people (the Blacks) are to be free….’.These acts, as it were brought to bear upon the entire world the evergreen dictum- equal justice under law. And thus, a new nation, conceived in liberty, baptized with justice and fairness and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal was born.
However, these actions were not effected nor established without any opposition; there were and the adversities were profound and brutal. The American civil war was the concomitant outcome of Lincoln’s stance against slavery. And Lincoln lived just for few days after the end of the war-mere six days and he was gone. Before his death Lincoln had concluded that, the war was necessary to atone for all the evils perpetrated against the Blacks for centuries-“Yet if God wills that it continue, until all the bond-man’s 250 years of unrequited toils shall be sunk ,and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said 3,000 years ago, so still it must be said , ‘The judgments of the Lord ,are true and righteous altogether’..”. With the end of the American civil war, Blacks all over the American society were proclaimed free and though free, but were not free indeed.
This state, was the reality on ground, when George Corley Wallace, Jr (was born ,in the thick of racial segregation and was saddled with the responsibility of a leader) made his effervescent comments and went ahead to effect his sentiment against the Blacks by standing in front of Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama on June 11, 1963 to prevent the enrollment of black students Vivian Malone and James Hood in a public school. This act became known as the “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door.”He would again repeat the same when he attempted to stop four black students from enrolling in four separate elementary schools in Huntsville in September 1963.The former act, was thwarted by a federal might when he was confronted by federal marshals and the Alabama National Guard. While the latter, was through the intervention of a federal court in Birmingham. Vivian Malone and James Hood became the first blacks to be admitted in white only University in the United States(Alabama),while the four children were the first to be integrated in a primary or secondary school in Alabama.
The 1960s could therefore be regarded as the golden era in American history, a prominent turning point, and it started and ended not with a whisper but with a big bang. Segregation was abolished in American and for the first time ever, Black kids and White kids can attend the same schools from the kindergarten, right unto the university. And a Blackman and Whiteman can sit together on the same seat, in the same bus, enter the same super market or departmental shops and be accorded the same honour. And the principle of miscegenation in American laws was destroyed. John F. Kennedy, the man, who fought this major battle to free the American‘s society from such encumbrance, that had been retarding its progress, tarnishing its glory, and furnishing arms to its detractors, had hinged his claim on the fact that America cannot fight for freedom and democracy all over the world, while it denies its own population such opportunity, at home. Like Lincoln before him, who fought for the emancipation of the Blacks, he did not live long, thereafter. But the foundations laid by these two men, were strong enough to abide for ages after their demise. Abraham Lincoln had the zeal and callings, Rosa Park had the courage not to yield, Martin Luther had the dream, John F. Kennedy executed all-the zeal and the callings, the courage and the dream.
Alexis de Tocqueville had a century and three decades earlier on, admonished America during his travels in the United States in 1835, that America will stop being great, when America stops being good. That the, sine qua non of American’s greatness is its being good. In other words, America operating a liberal system, by throwing its gates open to the world or conducting its affairs with fairness, has always profited the world and benefitted mankind throughout ages and has never hindered its greatness, rather time and time again,
this has enhanced its greatness. There is no race, no people, no colour, no tribe, and no class of people under the sun that is not a part of the American melting pot, God’s Crucible. And each of these had contributed and continues to contribute immensely to the greatness of America. And so the reputations of these great brave men that had laid the foundations of a free and egalitarian America should not be allowed to be imperiled by the actions of few men in this age .The lonely and unpopular paths taken by them, the fore bears of America, should not be allowed to be soiled with injustice, animosities, prejudice and sentiments, ever and never again. And American shall learn to live in peace and harmony with its neighbours, conducts its affairs with modesty and diplomacy and controls the world with its hospitality, commerce, industries and scientific breakthroughs and not by the force of arms.
Today, against all odds, against the spirit of bondage of 1492, – 516 years after the first set of Blacks were brought to the New World in chains, 232 years since the American revolution and independence, 145 years since the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg’s Address, 45 years since the desegregation of the American society along color divides and Martin Luther King (Jr)’s dream, a black man is the president of the United States. This is the American dream, the dream, the hope that is intended to be carried all along to the rest of the world.
The remaining vestiges of the ancient old world, the antebellum that regarded fellow men and women as unequal to be regarded as creatures of God, shall be laid to rest forever .And so, in 1979, when Blacks began to vote in large numbers in Alabama, George Corley Wallace, Jr, himself said of his stand in the schoolhouse door in 1963: “I was wrong. Those days are over and they ought to be over.”
-This article was prompted by certain observations in recent time, which are presently raised to the front burner, as result of the rise of Obama, an African into the United States presidency, vis-à-vis-the following;*The U.S decision to hike visa fee as a deterrent to check floods of immigrants to the United States.*The just concluded, November- mid Term election results, indicating a profound dissatisfaction with Obama’s leadership and what it portend to sighs of relief enjoyed all over the world since his election.*The demeanor of a congress man, Joe Wilson who had yelled at a sitting president (Obama)-‘You lie…You liar’, during Health Care Speech by Obama, claiming that ‘Obamacare’ will cover illegal aliens in the U.S against Obama’s assertion, which was to the contrary.*And Obama’s, ‘They talk about me like a dog’. He was quoted to have uttered in frustration during, a Milwaukee Laborfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to promote his $50 billion jobs initiative.