My America Tour -12

Telugu Original : Avula Gopala Krishna Murty (AGK)

English Translation: Komala Venigalla

Their claims

We often hear Americans claiming that their education system , news papers, local bodies, law courts and social welfare organizations are the essential strong holds of their democracy. People have indomitable faith in them.

          Some even say that no where else one finds such foundations for democracy. They often repeat what once Abraham Lincoln said-  Democracy is of the people, by the people and for the people.

          They desire that people should  lead their government with responsibility  and  they strongly believe that their government is running  according to people`s will.

          America is not one particular race. It is a combination of many minority races.All the races of Europe are there. We find there races from Asia, and Africa too. But all of them consider themselves Americans. They all speak the American language. Their kind of unity in diversity is to be found in very few countries.

          In some cities  half of the people are Germans and half  Italians. But all behave like Americans.

          In New York , in certain areas, people only from Holland live, in some only the Italians, and in other areas only the Germans. All speak English and live like Americans only. If you ask a cab driver to take you to Holland, they take to the area where Hollandes live.

          America  maintains such high quality of unity amidst their diversity and it is proud of its powerful democracy. Those who  call America a capitalist country should think whether they are fair in doing so.  

          There are many capitalists in this country, some consider theirs New Capitalism in principle. There are many who claim that theirs is the biggest democracy in the world.

          What ever it is, they don`t like anything going against their democracy, they sate the prevalence of dictatorship or socialism. They don`t differentiate  between communism and socialism. They describe  both as dictatorships and nationalism. There are many who openly argue that capitalism is better than the other systems.

          We have to make an effort to clearly understand all their views. We have to grasp the spirit of ` people` towards their governance. We have to understand their respect to the individual and his  fundamental rights. We have to grasp their feeling that freedom is everyone`s birthright.

          If we look at America with the above perspective  it does not matter  whether we call theirs a capitalist country or by any other name.

The Problem of Blacks

The problem of blacks   is given a new name- Problem of Human Relations- by the Americans. In India the problem of  MALA AND MADIGA  was termed by the British as the problem of scheduled castes and Gandhi called it  the problem of Harijans. We gave new names to washerman (chakali) as Rajaka; barber (Mangali) as Nayee Brahmin;Potter (kummari) as Kulali; medara, uppara saragu etc.    

          In this kind of change the names humanism is expressed. We want to do away with humiliation of people.We express that we are striving for  equality.

          Hence American way of calling the blacks problem as human relations is highly appreciated. It shows their desire to care about human values and the principle that all people are equal.  It is the matter of respectable relationship between person to person. Different skin color should not lead to  racial discrimination. Skin color depends on the climatic conditions of a country or region-too much cold or too much heat is responsible for skin color. For skin color a man or a religion is not responsible. When we fail to understand this simple reason we take pride in our race or color. Ignorance should not give us happiness or pride. We should make to strive for better knowledge and understanding.

          Now in 50 states of America there are two crores of blacks ( in 1963). Originally America belongs to the Red Indian aboriginals. Lakhs of Europeans migrated to America and called  it their country displacing the Red  Indians. These migrents did not have enough stamina to work hard and generate necessary income to live comfortably. Hence they brought the blacks from Africa to work for them as laborers, servants and slaves. They even bought slaves from other slave masters. They claimed them as their property. They did not treat them as human beings who have individuality of their own but took them to be useful material. There are still some people even now who can not give up their superior feeling.

          Initially Europe imported the Blacks as slaves while migrating to America, they brought them along with them.

          Lord Mansfield freed his Black slave in London in the year 1772. He totally abolished slavery  in England in the year 1807.

          In 1794 America decided not to import Blacks in the ships. In 1807 they decided  not to import slaves. But even till 1860 Black slaves were miserable. They said a Black man did not have the right to decide  himself whether he is a slave or a freeman. In 1854 in the case of Scott the Supreme court`s verdict said that  even if a Black is free he cannot be a citizen.

          Those were the days when arguments were ripe that the Congress who rules America and protects their constitution had no right over slavery.  In 1854 in the case between Nebraska and Kansas the Congress passed a law that those who settle there could maintain slaves. The Congress passed a law that Missourie state can keep slavery and can also join the union.

          The Blacks were tied with ropes and chains and clogged. They were sold and bought like cattle.

          From the beginning the Blacks were mostly brought to the Southern States. Among the present 50 States there are only  one per cent Blacks in 25 states. There are 30% of them in 15 states, while in the rest of the states there are 5 to 15 % of them. Hence the problem of Blacks is the problem of 6 or 7 Southern States.

          In some of these states the Blacks can never be a majority in the 100 or years to come. They did not increase more than 23% in 30 or more states. Hence they have to live as minority in all the States.

          In none of these states the Blacks can ever be majority in 100  or 125 years to come. They did not increase  more than 23%  in 30 or more states. Hence they have to  live as minority in all the states.

          America itself is a combination of minorities. Hence Blacks too are a part of it. The Red Indians are another  point. So the Blacks need not  specially consider themselves as a minority and feel desperate about it.

          Because of their color they are discriminated in their rights, hence they are reminded that they are minority. But it is a must that America should find solution to their problem.

          Many people give various  reasons  for their racial supremacy. In Africa the whites are ruling. Ghettos are built in certain areas for the Blacks to live. Initially this Ghetto culture was imported to America too but now  ghettos are bare minimum. In certain Southern states that culture is still felt. If a house is for sale in a whites area they see to that no Black should but that some. Indirect discrimination is shown like that.

          Let us turn to Indian situation. Mala, Madiga and some low caste people are untouchables. They kept them away from main stream of life. In undivided India ( before partition) there were 7 lakh villages, 7 lakh separate dwelling areas for untouchables.Charvaka, Ramanuja, Palanati Brahmanayudu and Gandhi made serious efforts to change such shameful situation. Ambedkar, M .N.Roy revolted against that ugly past of the culture and came out with suggestions for change.

          Some Indians show sympathy to  the South Africans and the Blacks in America. They criticize  those governments and make unjust remarks against them forgetting how heinous their treatment of  their fellow human beings in their country in the name of untouchability.

          In history of the revolution for emancipation of the Blacks had taken strange turns.

          Till 1860 a Black was neither accepted as a citizen nor even as secondary citizen. He was the property of somebody or other. That was the argument prevalent then.

          The law of 1820  allowed Missourie  State to  be in the union while still continuing slavery. Even in 1850 as a kind of understanding between Northern and Southern states they said that in South Blacks could be kept as slaves.

          In 1861 when Abraham Lincoln tool oath as the President neither Black slave nor his descendant could be citizen. But the status of a Black who is not a slave was different.

          Some wisemen wrote their will declaring their Black slaves free from slavery. But the law courts invalidated the  conditions in their wills. Why?  A Black slave had no right to decide whether to remain slave or a freeman-he had to remain slave. We heard about the verdict in the case of  J. Scott. The verdict said that Congress had no right to curtail slavery in any state. Lincoln vehemently condemned that verdict saying  ` if color degrades a person, people who are fair in color than  us can denounce us-people who are more intellectual than us may look down upon us . Color or intelligence is not the  property of particular group. All people should condemn that verdict-if this slavery is not a sin there is no other sin in the world. In 1858 Lincoln was defeated-Douglas who defeated him said- The government is of the white people, by the whites for the welfare of the whites. That was the political atmosphere then.

          Lincoln put forth a proposal that if slave owner considered his slaves as property, he would be compensated with money for that part of his property. He introduced a Bill to that effect in the Congress. He said – It is not our  decision to free slaves immediately, but we have to make an implicit decision to free them.

          Soon after Lincoln became the President eleven States who perpetrated slaves left the Union and  found a Federation. The question arose whether the Unity of the nation is important or the freedom to the slaves. Powers opposing unity declared won. The question arose whether to recruit the Blacks into the army or not. Slowly they were taken into army. In 1852 a law was passed that Blacks could be recruited into the army.Two lakh of them got into the army. They all fought for the unity of the nation. Every Black soldier was freed from slavery. This became the issue of disturbance to one group which gave strength to the other group.

          In those days Lincoln said ` I always thought all people should be free, whoever wants to be a slave wants to keep others as his slaves`. M.N.Roy in his New Humanism said – `A slave or any one who wants to retain others as slaves are both slaves.`.

          But there were political risks then. Lincoln was compelled to say `If the Unity of the country and the security of the Union could be achieved without freeing the slaves I will do that or if the union is saved with the freedom of the slaves I will immediately declare the emancipation of the slaves.`

          On 13th september, 1862 Chicago Christian organizations decided in favor of abolition of slavery.

          On 22 september 1862 Lincoln made his first announcement that he was going to declare the emancipation of slavery on 1st January 1863.

          With that announcement disturbances were created in the country. Jefferson Davis gave a call that all the free Blacks in the Southern States should be caught  and turned into slaves. Richmond announced that Lincoln`s announcement made the country incur loss of 2000 crore rupees.

          40 Black slaves were freed.The credit went to Lincoln. That was the story of  a human being to gift of humanism to others. It was  the story of Lincoln becoming the father of Blacks.

          Lincoln`s proposal of emancipation of slavery was the 13th amendment of the constitution. Later 14th and 15th amendments were made freeing all free of color discrimination.They were included in the Constitution but it would take a long time to be fully implemented.

          For example, look at our Constitution which abolished untouchability but its implementation is dead slow.

          The issue of emancipation gave rise to other issues in America. There is competition between Northern and Southern States about what  rights should a state have and what  rights  the federal government has. Many argued that the slavery  issue come under state administration. Some said that central government had to deal with it. Their desire that states should not bow down to the federal government authority had been connected to the Black`s freedom issue. From 1820 on words there were arguments and counter arguments about the emancipation issue.

          Lincoln brought  this issue to its climax by  saying -`No nation which has half its people free and half slaves can exist for a long time`.

          Lincoln`s pain and anguish subsided when the chief of the opposition army surrendered. Lincoln went to watch a play in a theater  as a way of celebration where he was shot by on 14th  april 1865. He died next day. He made amendment  in the constitution declaring the emancipation of slavery. He is the father , mother grandfather  to the Blacks. He is the incarnation of humanism, the greatest person to be cherished for ever in the American history.

          In the beginning there were 2 lakh Blacks brought to the country. But to day they are nearly 2 crore people.

          With the industrial development America prospered economically. The problem of Blacks took new turns leading  to the efforts for resolving them. Time as it advances brings changes. That is what happened in America. The riches in America did not much help for the progress of  the revolution for social changes.

          But it slowed it-it looked like that.

          In the year 1912 Arizona state joined the Union, the first time America became the united States of America. In reality America is only 50 years old, the youngest among the developed nations. Each state insisting on self development and the verdict of the Supreme Court, social reforms moved snail pace.

          According to their declaration of independence of 1778 all men are born equal. Amendments to their Constitution-13 the amendment in 1865, 14th in 1868, 15th in 1870 laid the foundations for freedom in the independent country.

          In the house of representatives, Southern states get less representation. But in the Senate each state has two representatives.Hence southern states` strength went up and they obstructed the progress.That was the main reason for the reform to lag behind.

          In the year 1896 their Supreme court gave equal but separate rights to the Blacks and the whites. this phrase equal but separate right caused hindrance in the field of education. But with the Supreme court`s verdict in 1954 distancing the blacks in the education field giving them separate quota or looking down upon them were abolished. In all schools all found equal representation. That was the beginning of the progressive path.

          On one side the courts  were bringing in the equal  citizenship, the Blacks on the hand  found entry in Federal jobs, government contracts and military jobs. When Franklin Roosevelt was the president, Issen Hoover introduced the first citizenship bill. Roosevelt was  a democrat and Issen Hoover a republican. Eisenhover made equal citizenship possible in 1957  and 1960. That was not possible in the past 80 years. This was the beginning of the law of comprehensive citizenship of 1964. This law was proposed by President Kennedy and was accepted at the time of  President Lindon Johnson. The emancipation of Blacks started by Lincoln has  reached the climax.

          To achieve this result many Black organizations worked very hard.Among them the national association of the progressive colonial people was the main organization. Roy Wilkins was its secretary. There was other organization-Congress of the racial equality. There are thousands of small and big organizations like-Southern Christian leaders association, non violent student committee, National urban league, National council  of Black women.

          All parties and all religious denominations supported the citizenship of Blacks.

          The procession taken on 28th August 1963 was memorable. It was not  the meeting of the Blacks alone. It was the meeting of the Americans and half lakh whites and Blacks together came forward for the meeting and gave slogans.

          Whiting Young, Roy Wilkinson, Walter P.Riyath Meer, James Formal, Matthew Aikman, Rubby Zoyalemim,Prince Dr Eugene Caros Black, John Lenin, Dr Martin Luther King welcomed the important activity and leaders working for the Black revolution. There are thousands of activists from various places of the country.

          Blacks have many news papers, many writers, poets, singers, artists, actors and thousands of fine arts promoters,sportsmen.No other race stands superior to Blacks.

          Even in India the backward communities play important role in  the areas of movies, arts, films and the instrumental music. I hope the social historians will specially conduct research and find out the reason for their eminence . Whatever may be the reason they stand out in movie, fine arts.

          In the law of 1964 there are eleven  special protections for the Blacks-voting, schools, rights in public places and organizations rights for jobs, civil rights court, federal civil rights commission are important among them. The Federal funds will be spent to mitigate any kind of disparity.

          It was announced in the government industrial department that the income of  the Black workers family is 16,000 rupees on an average and 30.000  for the white workers family. There are 11% of Black workers nationally. There is 2.50% unemployment among  them.

          President Johnson gave a call that all people

          people should decide to eliminate this disparity and work for that cause. They are coming forward with new proposals to work  for a better social life.They are making all efforts to make Lincoln`s ideals practically successful.

          There is poverty in America .But there is difference between our poverty and theirs. There are differences among themselves. There are poor whites and there re poor Blacks. But majority of the poor are among the Blacks.

          I had been to the house of poor whites and poor Blacks. They have telephones, cars, television sets, refrigerators, and other amenities but they are poor. In their row of houses all children don`t have separate space or rooms. Though they are not suffering from hunger but they don`t live in plenty.

          President Johnson started  work to give a better social life to them. Now they made laws among all citizens. But they should make efforts for their full implementation. They should proceed carefully to make the story of equality end happily.

          As President Kennedy said-We don’t have quota system, whites and Black should unite as one race -it is the ideal. If they continue on that path, for some more time we can call America, a country of walking democracy.

          If they succeed in their ideals, it is useful for us because we too have similar problems. We get encouragement from them and  can work paving the way to success.

          Their population in the south is dwindling. The southerners who wanted to play politics against the Blacks are disappointed.

          Let us look at the figures of Black population in the Southern States in 1960. In Alabama they were 9 lakh , 83 thousand ; in Arkansas 3 lakh 90 thousand, Florida 8 lakh 88 thousand, in Georgia 11 lakh 25 thousand, in Kentucky 2 lakh 18 thousand, Louisiana 10 lakh 46 thousand, Missisipi 9 lakh 21 thousand; North Carolina 11 lakh 57 thousand; south Carolina 8 lakh 35 thousand; Tennesse 5 lakh 90 thousand and in Virginia 8 lakh 73 thousand.

          These are the 11 states where Blacks problems got intensified and reached the climax. In recent years 2 lakhs of them became  newly listed voters.Five lakh students  are getting education in mixed schools.

          The Blacks problem successfully progressing. The sooner this problem gets solved the better for them.For its success proposals are coming up from all corners. Various forces in the country are getting awareness of the problem and are working hard  moving along with the nation.

          The answer is flowing in the winds. `I SEE FREEDOM` says one Black person!


(to be continued…)

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