It was the year 1957 – 57 years ago. The scene was Little Rock, Arkansas. The governor of that state was Orval Faubus (D), a name that may be unfamiliar to younger readers. The nine male white Justices of the Supreme Court had struck down desegregation in public schools in the Brown vs. The Board of Education decision. The governor of Arkansas disagreed with that decision and militarized the Arkansas National Guard to prevent black students from attending Little Rock Central High School.
The nine black students who had enrolled in Little Rock Central High School initially were blocked from attending by the Guard. The Mayor of Little Rock, Woodrow Wilson Mann appealed to President Dwight D. Eisenhower (R) who intervened, sending in the 101st Airborne Division into Little Rock to escort and protect the students. Eisenhower ultimately federalized the Arkansas National Guard, taking them out of the control of Governor Faubus.
Particularly during their first year attending Little Rock Central High, all of the students were subject to derision and abuse by their white counterparts. One of them, Melba Patillo had acid thrown in her face and several white girls tried to light her hair on fire when she was in the rest room. Others were spit on as they walked the school’s hallways. That was the way it was in America in 1957 – at least in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The state of Arkansas elects its governor for a two year term. Orval Faubus was elected to six successive terms by the citizens of that state. Notwithstanding what transpired in Little Rock in 1957, Faubus won his final election as governor in 1964 and carried more than 81% of the black vote in that election. What were the black voters of Arkansas thinking back then? What are they thinking today?
There was something refreshing about Orval Faubus. He made the list of the “Top Ten Most Influential Men in America” in 1958. He was either loved or hated. There was no parsing your position when it came to the governor. You knew that Faubus was a strict segregationist. He made no bones about his position and made no excuses for his beliefs. Whether you agreed or disagreed with him, it was impossible to say that he was not honest.
I thought about Little Rock as events in Ferguson, MO are unfolding. To say the least, the way in which the Ferguson PD has managed this has been far from perfect. Suspicion has arisen because of the failure, until today, to release the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown. The governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon (D) took charge and by appointing the head of the Missouri State Police, Captain Ron Johnson took a big step in the right direction. Johnson is well-spoken and is a calming influence, helping to diffuse a situation that was at a boiling point and is now at a fast simmer.
The family made a statement and appealed to the community to keep calm, to continue to demonstrate but to do so in a peaceful manner. That is admirable and is what should happen. But in today’s release of the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown, it was also revealed that Brown was caught on the Quick Trip video security camera, robbing the store. His identity and participation in this theft has now been confirmed – as well his manhandling the short owner of the store who is dwarfed by this 6’ 4”, 292 pound “gentle giant” as he has been characterized. And then the attorneys for the Brown family, headed by Benjamin Crump who represented the Trayvon Martin family, released the following statement:
Michael Brown’s family is beyond outraged at the devious way the police chief has chosen to disseminate piece mil (sic) information in a manner intended to assassinate the character of their son, following such a brutal assassination of his person in broad daylight.
There is nothing based on the facts that have been placed before us that can justify the execution style murder of their child by this police officer as he held his hands up, which is the universal sign of surrender.
The prolonged release of the officer’s name and then the subsequent alleged information regarding a robbery is the reason why the family and the local community have such distrust for the local law enforcement agencies.
It is no way transparent to release the still photographs alleged to be Michael Brown and refuse to release the photographs of the officer that executed him.
The police strategy of attempting to blame the victim will not divert our attention, from being focused on the autopsy, ballistics report and the trajectory of the bullets that caused Michael’s death and will demonstrate to the world this brutal execution of an unarmed teenager.
Benjamin L Crump, Esq.
Anthony D. Gray, Esq.
Daryl D. Parks, Esq.
If I hadn’t read the signatures at the end of this statement, I would have guessed that it had been written by Al Sharpton or one of the other race baiters who regularly stir the pot when these sorts of incidents occur. And just for once, it would give all of us some real reason for outrage if the “victim” as Michael Brown may have been, did not engage in possibly illegal acts, such as the store robbery, which only muddy the waters on what happened.
I didn’t know the late Michael Brown. Losing your life over fifty dollars worth of stolen cigars is mind numbing. But I do know that good kids don’t steal from convenience stores. And if there is one lesson to be learned, it is one that is generally ignored by our black citizens.
In 1964 when black Arkansas voters cast 81% of their ballots for the segregationist/racist Governor Orval Faubus, the overall unemployment rate in this country was 5.2% and for black workers was 6.1%. Today the rate for black teenagers, kids like Michael Brown is nearly 25% – and black Americans voted for another Democrat, Barack Obama giving him 95% of their ballots.
It makes me long for the good old days.