Home > African American Patriots, by Jack L. Daniel PUM Contributor

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“I’ m just a Negro soldier 
Fighting for "democracy!'
A thing I've often heard of
But very seldom see...

Yet I must be patriotic
Must not grumble or complain
But must fight for some "four freedoms"
On which I'll have no claim...

…For how can a second-class citizen
Be a first-class patriot?

…But to win complete equality,
I’d fight and gladly die”

-Bill Horton-


               Let no one deflect from the truth!  NFL players “taking a knee” is neither a protest against the American flag nor its national anthem.  Rather, it is a protest against the fact that, from 1776 to date, African American lives do not matter as much as White American lives.  It is a protest against the hypocrisy emanating from the fact that, under the auspices of the American flag and while perpetrators sang the national anthem, African Americans have been “buked and scorned;” physically and psychologically raped; maimed and murdered; and suffered inestimable educational and economic damage.  

It is duplicitous/deceitful/disingenuous to accuse those “taking a knee” of being “unpatriotic” given the fact that [1] White “patriots” spit on African American children and shouted “Nigger go home” when they entered a school formerly designated for Whites only; [2] for years, White “patriots” stood for the national anthem and saluted the flag at stadiums where African Americans were barred from playing; and [3]  White “patriots” have beaten and bombed African Americans for aspiring to do their most fundamental civic duty, i.e., voting and, today, White “patriots” seek to reduce voting rights.   

Nowhere has African Americans’ patriotism been so well displayed but violently rebuffed than when African Americans defended America during times of war.  As Harriet Beecher Stowe stated in her introduction to William C. Nell’s The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution, “…In considering the services of the Colored Patriots of the Revolution, we are to reflect upon them as far more magnanimous, because rendered to a nation which did not acknowledge them as citizens and equals, and in whose interests and prosperity they had less at stake. It was not for their own land they fought, not even for a land which had adopted them, but for a land which had enslaved them, and whose laws, even in freedom, oftener oppressed than protected. Bravery, under such circumstances, has a peculiar beauty and merit.”  http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/nell/nell.html

When they expressed their patriotism during the Civil War, African American soldiers were paid three dollars a month less than Whites to serve in the Union Army.  In addition, African Americans had to pay $3 a month for clothing (“10 Surprising Civil War Facts BY DENNISGAFFNEY MAY 10, 2011).  And surprise, surprise, some White Union soldiers were upset when African American soldiers protested!

Starting with the end of the civil war, “…The violent response to freedom for former slaves was followed by decades of racial terror, lynching and targeted violence designed to sustain white supremacy and racial hierarchy.  …No one was more at risk of experiencing violence and targeted racial terror than black veterans who had proven their valor and courage as soldiers during the Civil War, World War I, and World War II.  Because of their military service, black veterans were seen as a particular threat to Jim Crow and racial subordination. Thousands of black veterans were assaulted, threatened, abused, or lynched following military service.” https://eji.org/reports/online/lynching-in-america-targeting-black-veterans

Given what African Americans have suffered in America, how dare anyone have the gall to question the patriotism of African Americans in general or, in particular, those who opt to “take a knee?”  The primary reason for questioning their patriotism and calling them “sons of female dogs” is to deflect attention from White privilege which continues to be America’s albatross.  “Taking a knee” is simply some athletes’ way of raising the question Langston Hughes asked many years ago.

Looky here, America
What you done done —
Let things drift
Until the riots come.

Now your policemen
Let your mobs run free.
I reckon you don’t care
Nothing about me.

You tell me that hitler
Is a mighty bad man.
I guess he took lessons
From the ku klux klan.

You tell me mussolini’s
Got an evil heart.
Well, it mus-a been in Beaumont
That he had his start —
 Cause everything that hitler
And mussolini do,
Negroes get the same
Treatment from you.

You jim crowed me
Before hitler rose to power —
And you’re STILL jim crowing me
Right now, this very hour.

Yet you say we’re fighting
For democracy.
Then why don’t democracy
Include me?

I ask you this question
Cause I want to know
How long I got to fight




Jack L. Daniel

Co-Founder, Freed Panther Society

Pittsburgh Urban Media Contributor

September 29, 2017



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