Jerome Smith was a young civil rights activist and Freedom Rider in 1963. Arthur Schlesinger, in his book on RFK, recalls that CORE described Smith as a young man beaten more than any other CORE worker at the time.
Jerome Smith stood up to RFK
It was no surprise to anyone that Smith had no kind words for Bobby or his brother:
“Mr. Attorney General, you make me want to puke. I don’t care what you think, and I don’t care what your brother thinks either.”
Smith was a man of the streets, not academia, or the entertainment world. He’d been in the streets, on the buses, working to register voters and advocate the cause. In the 1963 meeting Jarvis DeBerry mentions in his article about the film, “I Am Not Your Negro”, he was arguably the wokest person in the room.
I haven’t seen the movie yet, but having seen “Hidden Lines” last weekend, it’s time I did. The movie is about Baldwin, so it’s not surprising that some things get left on the cutting room floor. Unfortunately, that’s what happened to Jerome Smith (assuming they shot his remarks at all. Jarvis explains it:
Because that section of the documentary focuses on Baldwin’s friendship with the playwright Lorraine Hansberry and her premature death at 34, it is Hansberry’s disgusted response to Kennedy’s hemming and hawing that is given attention. But Hansberry’s decision to snub Kennedy by standing up, bidding him goodbye and exiting the room wasn’t the most demonstrable display of disgust. The most disgusted response, which isn’t in the documentary, came from New Orleans’ own Jerome Smith.
So, it’s no deep conspiracy that the woke young man got left out of the documentary. He just got overshadowed. I learned something new today, that Smith was from New Orleans. I’d not read Schlesinger’s book (it came out in 1978) when I was teaching American History in the early 1980s. I certainly would have highlighted this encounter, if for no other reason, because Smith was a local guy.
Now I want to go back to the classroom. Gotta win dat powerball.
(cross-posted to NOLA History Guy)
The Faith Based Left must stand up. Religious conservatives did this, we can do so as well.
Here’s how pros do things. You lose, you take a shower, have a drink, and get ready for the next game.
The Faith Based Left
So, as Jed would say, “What’s next?”
The left must accept that, for the next few years, we’re not getting anything out of government. SCOTUS goes back to 5-4, most likely with a replacement for Scalia that’s worse than Scalia himself. For the next two years, government is in total control of the Republican Party. We have to accept that fact and do what we can to mitigate its impact.
How do we do that? We need to become a faith-based community. What is our faith? That the United States of America is better than the vision the Republicans have for the country. There are a number of things we now cannot rely upon the government to support/nurture/fix:
- Health Care
- Criminal Justice
- LGBT Rights
These are just five areas right off the top of my head. Traditionally, we Democrats would use government to improve the position of all in these and so many other areas. That’s not happening now. We won’t have the federal government to help. We’re going to have to do them ourselves.
Fleshing out an agenda
Education. While liberals have always supported public education. We need to accept that funding for public education isn’t going to improve. Time to adopt the initiatives of the right, such as homeschooling.
Health Care. ACA is gone, count on it. So, maybe they’ll work something out on pre-existing conditions, but even that may go. We need to look to private solutions, community clinics, and other non-governmental solutions. We do it in the third world, we need to apply what we do well in our own country now.
Criminal Justice. The for-profit prison industry has been a disaster, and that’s not going to change with even greater Republican dominance of government. Public/Indigent defenders are barely funded as it is now. That’s not going to improve. Liberals are going to have to take the right to an attorney into the community. We need to nurture and support legal assistance clinics and private indigent defense practices.
LGBT Rights. Liberals need to do what religious conservatives did in the 1980s, infiltrate and reclaim local government. We know most gains in this area will get rolled back at the federal level, so we have to work from the bottom up. Elect school boards The Left must become a faith-based communitywhose members encourage diversity and tolerance. It starts now.
Poverty. We have to feed our communities. The government just isn’t going to do it.
These are thoughts off the top of my head after a very rude awakening this morning. We need to make it all happen.
One of my favorite work-nerd things is the Amicus podcast from Slate/Panoply. I’ve been a fan of Ms. Dhalia Lithwick (I well and truly squeeed when she was on TDS last month) for years, and to hear her as well as read her column is a lot of fun. Her end-of-term podcast is an interview with outgoing Solicitor General Don Verrili, and it’s a fascinating look into arguing before the present-day SCOTUS. This is a great listen. If you know a Government teacher, I highly recommend you pass Amicus on to them as a teaching tool.