By Arelya J. Mitchell, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief
The Mid-South Tribune and the Black Information Highway
“Cory is here tonight. And like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg never gives up, and he does not quit. My fellow Americans, men and women like Cory remind us that America has never come easy. Our freedom, our democracy, has never been easy. Sometimes we stumble, we make mistakes; we get frustrated or discouraged. But for more than 200 years, we have put those things aside and placed our collective shoulder to the wheel of progress—to create the build and expand the possibilities of individual achievement; to free other nations from tyranny and fear; to promote justice; and fairness, and equality under the law so that the words set to paper by our founders are made real for every citizen…”
The above is a quote from President Barack Obama’s January 28, 2014 State of the Union Address as he pays homage to Sergeant First Class Rory Remsburg whom he’d visited four times while this brave American was recovering from what could have been fatal wounds when a mine went off in Afghanistan. Sergeant First Class Remsburg received well worthy cheers and a standing ovation from members of both parties. These cheers and ovations lasted longer than anything the President said that night and these accolades were respectfully accorded in a bi-partisan spirit to honor this soldier. At the end of the day it is the soldier who protects citizens be they Democrats, Republicans, independents, Black, White, Hispanic, Oriental, Native Americans – all citizens regardless of race, color, sex, or creed.
“Col. Young is here tonight. And like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, Col. Charles Young never gives up, and he does not quit. My fellow Americans, men and women like Col. Young remind us that America has never come easy. Our freedom, our democracy, has never been easy. Sometimes we stumble, we make mistakes; we get frustrated or discouraged. But for more than 200 years, we have put those things aside and placed our collective shoulder to the wheel of progress—to create the build and expand the possibilities of individual achievement; to free other nations from tyranny and fear; to promote justice; and fairness, and equality under the law so that the words set to paper by our founders are made real for every citizen…”
Of course, the President made no reference to Col. Charles Young in his State of the Union Address. Col. Charles Young died in 1922. Col Young was the highest ranking Black officer in the Army at the time of his death.
For nearly two years, the National Coalition of Black Veterans*, which represents every branch of the military, has been practically begging for the Commander-in-Chief to give Col. Charles Young an ‘Honorary’ promotion to General. You see, Col. Young should have been promoted but because he was African American, he was not.
The National Coalition of Black Veterans had put in numerous requests to the White House to present a bronze maquette of Col. Young on horseback by renowned sculptor Antonio Tobias Mendez.
The Black Veterans finally had to resort to the Congressional Black Caucus for a second time, and for the second time it was Cong. Barbara Lee who so passionately stepped in and sent a second letter to the President only to be met with a steel wall of indifference. Should such treatment have been news? Of course not. This is the same President/Commander-in-Chief who scolded this respected organization of African American congressional leaders for “whining.”
“What are you whining about?” he chastised them standing on a podium for all the nation and world to witness. Never mind that he kept refusing to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus in 2009 after he became America’s first Black president, when the Congressional Black Caucus like so many African Americans were foot soldiers in getting him elected. Never mind that he had met with everyone and every other group that did not have ‘Black’ and/or African American as an adjective attached to it. This modus operandi has been this administration’s strategy—or shall we say ‘marketing’ strategy to sell the President as an unthreatening Black male from day one. Why it continues is beyond our understanding.
So, it came as no surprise when Cong. Barbara Lee, obviously a Black woman and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, was put in her proverbial place of being ignored, just as was done to the National Coalition of Black Veterans.
We have been following this story very closely. We have written editorials regarding the matter. So, when we asked and were told that the White House had called Mr. Charles Blatcher III, chairman of the National Coalition of Black Veterans and founder of the National Minority Military Museum Foundation, there was hope that the right thing would be done by Col. Young who loved his country even when his country did not love him back.
Seeing that this is Black History Month when the Black Veterans had this event scheduled to present a bronze maquette to the President, we asked again how things were coming along with their requests. We were told that the White House had called in early December 2013. At that time the Coalition was led to believe the President would accept this honor. We double-checked during this Black History Month, and we received the following statement on February 15, 2014 from Blatcher:
“Members of the Coalition are extremely disappointed in what appears to be the run-around in how the White House Scheduling Office has dealt with our request for an audience with the President. We received a telephone call from the Scheduling Office in December informing us that our request was being processed. We were told to expect a follow-up call in a few weeks. The second call came approximately six weeks later on February 3rd from the same office. However, this time the caller was offering an apology for the President missing the February 1st program. We informed him that no program happened on February 1st. We have been waiting for a response to our request for a
meeting with the President to make a presentation of the Colonel Young maquette to the nation. He apologized for his misunderstanding of the facts and asked that we re-submit the request by e-mail. Again, we were told someone would be in touch. Well, it has not happened yet. While we still maintain a sense of optimism, our hope is fading with the passing of each day. February is a short month. We would hate to think the White House could not find time in the President’s schedule to accept the small statue of a Black American Military Hero who symbolizes the dedication, courage and pride in which Black Veterans have historically served this nation. One could certainly argue those historic contributions made it possible for him to occupy the office of Commander-in-Chief.”
All right, I’ve had enough. I don’t care if I am condemned to the dungeons of hell for saying what I am about to. Besides, in the history of my life I have had the KKK pick up the phone and call me choice names (which I returned)—and this was in the 1990’s. This man who is America’s first Black president has continually let be implemented a political strategy to disassociate himself from practically anything and everything associated with his race, outside of his immediate family. He has been paraded by white pseudo liberals whom I have labeled Jungle Jims and has bent over so backwards not to seem that he’s giving favors to Black Americans that he’s one step from being up there with ‘Step ‘n Fetch it’. I mean, can you imagine America’s first Jewish president (and there will be one one day) chastising a Jewish organization with “what are you whining about?” or America’s first Hispanic president (and there will be one one day), saying to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus: “What are you whining about?” John F. Kennedy was the first Catholic president, and I cannot imagine he would have said to Irish American Catholics: “What are you whining about?”
Of course, the Congressional Black Caucus still wanting to give him the respect of being America’s first Black president constantly has been put in a position of whenever the President says ‘jump’, they ask ‘how high?’ or if he needs votes, they deliver them then crawl back down into the belly of the beast (Congress) until he needs their votes again. How pathetic is this ‘one-sided’ symbiotic relationship? They’ve been respectful for longer than he deserves because they know and he knows that if they give the appearance of being disrespectful to a Black man who is President, they would catch holy hell from Black constituents. Perfect Catch-22 for them; a win-win for him.
During World War I Secretary of War Newton Baker pushed for Young’s promotion until President Woodrow Wilson backed down at the behest of Mississippi Gov. Theodore Bilbo, an avowed segregationist. Even General John ‘Black Jack’ Pershing canvassed for Young’s promotion. During World War I, Pershing took command of the all-Black 10th Cavalry Regiment (an original Buffalo Soldier regiment), because African American soldiers were not allowed to have command of their own troops. Pershing was so derided for commanding a Black regiment that he was known first as ‘Nigger Jack’ which later transformed into ‘Black Jack’ as he became a popular ‘white’ war hero.
President Truman crossed the color line and integrated the Armed forces. Truman also promoted posthumously Colonel William “Billy” Mitchell to rank of Major General; President George H.W. Bush awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor to Freddie Stowers of World War I; President Bill Clinton pardoned Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper, the first African American West Point graduate who was wrongfully discharged because of racism.
Here we are in the 21st Century and still no promotion for Col. Young– honorary or otherwise.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia sent a letter of support. Haiti’s Ambassador Paul G. Altidor sent a letter of support. Chief Methuselah Z.O. Bradley IV of the Republic of Sierra Leone sent a letter of support. Oh, but, of course these letters of posthumous support were from Black people. Of course, if these letters had come from the Queen of England, the honorary promotion would have been a done deal. The Jungle Jims around President Obama would have immediately seen to that! Then, of course, he never would have asked the Queen of England, “What are you whining about?”
This type of disrespect never should have been exhibited toward this Black soldier.
This President—of all presidents—should have never disrespected Black Veterans.
Let us remember during this Black History Month, the National Coalition of Black Veterans never would exist had it not been for the fact that this country—home of the brave and free—divided the Army into black and white. Never mind that the same blood shed was red.
This President—of all presidents—never should have disrespected a Black Congressional female who represents the likes of Cong. Shirley Chisholm who was the first African American to run for president— before Rev. Jesse Jackson; before Rev. Al Sharpton.
This President—of all presidents—should have never, never, never, never have stood before the world and said to the Congressional Black Caucus, “What are you whining about?” These were the men and women who combed the bushes, stomped the grounds, stood up in Black church podiums… some of whom started the task before he was thought of – who supported him. Such honorable men as Gen. Colin Powell even crossed party lines—to make ‘American’ history… and we cannot even imagine if Cong. Shirley Chisholm or Rev. Jesse Jackson or Rev. Al Sharpton or Gen. Colin Powell had become America’s first Black president standing up in front of the world in a day of advance technology saying to the Congressional Black Caucus: “What are you whining about?”
This matter is not about political affiliation any more than it was when the brave Sergeant Cory was lauded for his contribution before the nation—before the world. Whatever color, creed, sex or race that soldier is, he or she is to be respected for being America’s warriors. So when there was one such as Col. Charles Young who protected this nation under segregation so that Sergeant Cory one day may protect his country under desegregation is constantly being denied this rightful honors, his accolades, his applause, his standing ovation, it’s a lowdown dirty shame that he gets snubbed by America’s first Black Commander in Chief.
Never, never, never should this type of disrespect have been shown to the National Coalition of Black Veterans. Never, never, never should this type of disrespect have been shown to the Congressional Black Caucus.
Never, never, never should this type of disrespect have been shown to this Black soldier, to this Black Colonel, to this Black patriot! May he rest in peace!
Never, should this type of dishonor be accepted. Never, never, never!
For full list of Coalition members, travel on the Black Information Highway and The Mid-South Tribune at http://www.blackinformationhighway.com.