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Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

Mandela and Douglass

By Sam Riddle
Special to the Michigan Citizen

Nelson Mandela understood and was imprisoned for living in a manner consistent with that of which Frederick Douglass spoke in 1857:

“If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation … want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters… Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

As worldwide media and international handkerchief-heads seek to revise history, we would do well to understand Nelson Mandela was not a teddy bear. Nelson Mandela was a lion. The arrogance of the revisionist is astounding; you can’t sanitize revolution and wrap Mandela as if Mandela were a doting teddy bear. We won’t allow that. Don’t get it twisted. Nelson Mandela got a hero’s welcome upon his prison release because Mandela had been a no-compromise revolutionary.

You that criticized a Martin Luther King Jr. when he was alive would not have endured a nanosecond in the same room with a young Nelson Mandela. Mandela — the leader of a nation — wore different attributes than Mandela the revolutionary who had to vanquish the enemy to create the nation. Reconciliation was a necessary tool to ensure the stability of the new nation. Forgiving is much easier for a freed conqueror than a revolutionary in the heat of battle. Yep.

Mandela and Douglass were freedom fighters. A freedom fighter can be an activist but not all activists are freedom fighters. Detroit in 2013 teems with activists but is short a few freedom fighters in our struggle to restore democracy to Detroit.

Mandela in death is criticized by some for being a communist. Douglass like Mandela grappled with the profit motive as a barrier to humane treatment when he noted that in America the great question always seems to be “will it pay?” Quoting from Revelation 14:6, Douglass was clear: “…if such a people as ours had heard the beloved disciple of the Lord, exclaiming in the rapture of the apocalyptic vision, ‘And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people;’ they, instead of answering, Amen Glory to God in the Highest, would have responded, — but brother John, will it pay? Can money be made out of it? Will it make the rich richer, and the strong stronger? How will it effect property? In the eyes of such people, there is no God but wealth; no right and wrong but profit and loss… (Our) national morality and religion have reached a depth of baseness than which there is no lower deep.”

Ever notice how discussions center on “things” instead of flesh and blood people? How many Detroit children are eating and learning better since democracy was destroyed in Detroit with emergency managers? Does anyone feel safer since the EM took over? History one day will note  Detroit was the city where dollars trumped democracy as debt was used as a poll tax club to disenfranchise Black Americans en masse.

The Michigan legislature controlled by Republican Governor Nerd’s friends turned down $21,000,000 to inform us about healthcare so Republicans could attack Obamacare instead. Then Democrats tell us how cheap healthcare is for a Detroit family of four making $50,000 a year; how many of those are there in the D?

Over 60 percent of Detroit’s children live in poverty. Those children will not be found in Midtown or downtown. Why do you keep repeating this? You don’t ask that of those who say things are getting better in Detroit. Better for whom? Why is the pain and suffering of children so damn invisible in Detroit? You’d rather argue more over protective low ball valuation of DIA paintings than utter a whisper about feeding and protecting hungry, love-starved children.

Meanwhile, two kids die poverty deaths in a fire as parents jack electricity for heat; yeah parental responsibility is a major issue, but so is parenting while broke. For long term safety bring jobs and good schools that help make citizens employable to compliment your safety raids that jail parents for outstanding warrants. No, it doesn’t help that some human parents don’t have the instincts of mama bear that is never far from her cubs. It’s a mess all the way around.

We must never let haters cause us to lose hope or dislike ourselves and never let haters make you weak in your faith. Keep the faith. Stay on the battlefield.

Sam Riddle is political director for Michigan National Action Network. Follow him on Facebook at: facebook.com/sam.riddle or Twitter at twitter.com/samriddle

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