THE BLOG
08/14/2014 05:09 pm ET Updated Aug 14, 2014

Ferguson Is Reminiscent of Some of This Country's Worst Moments

Scott Olson via Getty Images

No, no! My smart TV is playing a visual trick on me.

Am I actually watching, in real time, military-garbed police in Ferguson, MO, pointing their weapons at persons in that community who have peacefully assembled? People who gathered to express their outrage over the recent shooting by an unidentified police officer of 18-year-old Michael Brown, Jr., an African-American believed to have been unarmed?

Relations between police and African-American communities across our country may be at its worst since the 1960s.

What do public officials in the police department in Ferguson fear?

When the shooting of Mr. Brown by a white police officer occurred, word spread. There was some limited violence and rioting, which was quickly contained by leaders and others in Ferguson. The demonstrations on national TV Wednesday evening were initially peaceful and disciplined. Police subsequently fired tear gas and rubber bullets into them -- that is when some acts of retaliatory violence occurred.

Ferguson is reminiscent of some of the worst confrontations between the African-American communities and police nationwide. I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.

Moreover, events in Ferguson are occurring during the second term of Barack Obama, America's first African-American president. Ironically, they occurred also on the same evening when he is being celebrated at Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard. Oak Bluffs is the vacation venue of America's Black bourgeoisie and those who genuinely believe that they have become, in our 21st century, significant participants in white America's economic power structure.

In 1968, at the request of President Lyndon Johnson, a commission was created to examine the causes of riots that had occurred in several urban communities. These included Newark and New Brunswick, NJ, Detroit and several other cities. Named after its Chairman, Otto Kerner, then Governor of Illinois, the "1968 Kerner Commission Report concluded that the nation was "moving toward two societies, one black, one white -- separate and unequal."

The Report noted at the time that:

"A new mood has sprung up among Negroes, particularly among the young, in whom self-esteem and enhanced racial pride are replacing apathy and submission to "the system."

"The abrasive relationship between the police and the minority communities has been a major-and explosive-source of grievance, tension and disorder. The blame must be shared by the total society."

The Report concluded that:

"To some Negroes, police have come to symbolize white power, white racism and white repression. And the fact is that many police do reflect and express these white attitudes. The atmosphere of hostility and cynicism is reinforced by a widespread belief among Negroes in the existence of police brutality and in a "double standard" of justice and protection -- one for Negroes and one for whites."

Professor Michelle Alexander's book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in a Color Blind America may be the best 21st century update "Report" about the police and African-American communities since the 1968 Kerner Commission Report.

But we don't need any more commissions, books or studies about African-American young men and the police across America. It is apparently open season to shoot or apply otherwise deadly force with impunity upon black men -- an unspoken "license to kill."

In 1962 the African-American author James Baldwin wrote "The Fire Next Time." It was an open letter to his nephew on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. Baldwin wrote:

"You were born where you were born and faced the future you faced because you were black and for no other reason. The limits of your ambition were thus, were expected to be set forever. You were born into a society, which spelled out with brutal clarity, and in as many ways possible that you were a worthless human being. You were not expected to aspire to excellence: you were expected to make peace with mediocrity...the symbols of your life have been constructed to make you believe what white people say about you."

"God gave Noah the rainbow sign, No more water, the fire next time."

President Obama has held press conferences on Iraq, the "refugee crisis" on our southern borders, Putin and the Ukraine, etc. A thoughtful, well-intended message to the Holmes family from him and First Lady Michelle is not enough. We have a crisis between the police in our country and young black men. National presidential leadership and action is required to address this. We don't need another Commission. We need immediate presidential executive action and leadership to resolve this crisis.

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