By Vincent L. Hall
“The people’s champ must be everything the people can’t be”
– “Blessings” by Chancelor Johnathan Bennett, AKA Chance the Rapper.
The second epistle in The Warrior Method (TWN) series is more comfortable to speak than to achieve. TWM is built upon the axle and example of Dr. King’s Montgomery Bus Boycott. Rallies and marches are excellent for openers, but if you plan to get the man’s knee off yo neck, you gotta replicate that Energizer Bunny…keep going and going and going! In “After Rosa sat: The genius and success of the 13-month Montgomery Bus Boycott,” Chris Kromm makes this observation.
“Laying the groundwork for a boycott in Montgomery were E.D. Nixon, a member of the Black Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters union and officer with Parks in the local NAACP, and Jo Ann Robinson, a professor at Alabama State College and leader of the Women’s Political Council. In 1954, more than a year before Parks’ act of civil disobedience, Robinson wrote a letter to the mayor of Montgomery warning that ‘there has been talk from twenty-five or more local organizations of planning a city-wide boycott of buses.’” The Montgomery protest was organic and well-organized. It was made up of local groups and shareholders. These groups banned together, chose a target, and were relentless in making their adversary acquiesce. The Warrior Method in Dallas was similar. We had a leader who knew the community’s history and viewed the enemy’s moves from a perch of elective power. BLM has taken a stance that there will be no anointed national leadership. I concur wholeheartedly. But there has to be a spokesperson, a strategist, and a negotiator in front and accountable. Not all three jobs have to reside in one body, but it could.
Secondly, the movement needs some form of ties with local elected officials. This excuse that officeholders should abstain is bullshit. We can’t keep choosing friends, frats, sorors, and North Dallas’ handpicked Negroes. As a community, we often go left (no pun intended) on the Democrats, and unfairly so. Democrats, since the 1960s, welcomed us into their tent and even fought to have “safe seats,” designed to increase minority representation. This party is far from perfect. However, the only coloreds welcomed under the GOP tent are trained, timid, and token-worthy. We elect leaders on the strength of their charisma, rather than the substance of their character. Once chosen, they major in ceremonial acts and “failsafe” actions. Then we reelect them for a lifetime. Who can fault the candy store owner who grants your wish, and the candy makes you sick. Our issues are not as much with the party as the parties we pick. After the target, organizing is the orbit. Next, the Warriors were principally concerned with the safety of protestors and the public. We met with the PD and went through every detail. We drafted what was essentially a parade permit and then used their laws to our advantage.
For example, we began protesting daily against DPD in Pleasant Grove. The police arrived 30 minutes early and stayed 30 minutes late. When we realized that they had grown numb, we renegotiated and took our protest to Northwest Highway. I have never seen white folks so mad. But our mission and mantra were to share our pain with errybody! DPD demanded we “vacate the crosswalk” within 30 seconds after stepping off the curb. We challenged it legally and expanded it to 90 seconds, and built a single line processional. Often, motorists waited through multiple light changes. Drivers cursed us and the police. And we cursed back. They felt it was unjust, but it paled in comparison to police brutality, discrimination in hiring and promotions of officers, and the rampant racial profiling.
Black Police Officers Association members like Corporal James Allen, removed their uniforms and joined us. DPD officers would tell you that the safest place in Dallas was on our pocket line. Many of the officers — Black, Brown, and White — appreciated and respected us. We made our tax dollars work for us and with us. Chaos was to be expected, but injuries and carelessness were unacceptable. Nighttime protests..are you kidding? Large international crowds are encouraging, but when that party is over, the constant work of real change begins. Protests require a visionary champ and organized home-grown soldiers. The Montgomery Boycott was organic, organized, and spanned 381 days. However, that tree and its branches have lasted for 65 years.