This is what it was like
OK, once again I am a little late for my annual Black History Month post. But hear me out, I have a good reason. You’ve heard of that conspiracy theory about designating February, the shortest month of the year, as black history month, right? Well, it’s worse than that.
Did you know that the Super Bowl, the sporting event that a large number of African Americans watch annually, was moved from end of January to the first week of February a few years ago? Interesting, isn’t it? So for many African Americans the first week of February is devoted to news about the Super Bowl and preparation for the Super Bowl party. What’s worse, who makes it to the Super Bowl this year? Yep, the New Orleans Saints who were the sentimental favorites of all Americans, but especially African Americans, mostly because of the recent tragic history of the city. And wouldn’t you know it? The Saints go out and upset the Indianapolis Colts to win their first Super Bowl ever. So, take another week for celebration and what are you left with? 2 weeks in February. Coincidence? I think not. Well, keep reading.
Then it’s the middle of February, and rolls in Valentine’s day!! Well, I don’t have to tell you how demanding this holiday can be on black people who are always trying to get their groove on. Take another week off for planning, preparation and the big day to impress your woman with the most creative Valentine’s event. Then you have to de-compress after all these huge events so take another week off and what are you left with? Only one more week for Black History Month.
There you have it. It’s a grand conspiracy people.
Well, OK, I’ll admit it, this is the best I could come up with for excuse. Actually, I had saved a couple of stories which I planned for a Black History Month, but all of a sudden, Tom Tancredo, the former Colorado Congressman steps in and provides me with the prefect material. Some of you may remember Mr Tancredo as a Republican candidate from the 2008 Presidential election when he ran on an anti Immigration platform. That basically means that he hates all non white foreigners and wants them to be deported back to their countries.
Well, a few weeks ago, Mr Tancredo was a guest speaker at the first “Tea Party Convention”…you know, those people you have been seeing on TV lately with pictures of Obama as a Nazi or a witch doctor. Yep, those nut jobs the majority of which are white and can’t seem to face the fact that the country is being run by a black man. Anyways, Mr Tancredo made the following statement about President Obama and the 2008 election.
“… we do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote.”
“…people who could not even spell the word ‘vote’ or say it in English put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House.”
What is even more interesting and frightening is the fact that when he made that statement, he got a thunderous cheer from the crowd of nut jobs at the convention. Although Mr Tancredo is know for making such controversial and divisive comments in the past, what made this particular one even more eye popping is that it sounded like it came straight out of the Jim Crow era in the 50’s and 60’s when there actually were civics literacy tests, especially in the South, for black people before they were allowed to vote.
Here is MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow from a couple of weeks ago reporting about this issue and also about ‘how it was’ back then in the good old days of the 60’s in Alabama and Georgia. Tancreado would have fit perfectly with his racism and this is where he is trying to turn this country back to.
So, after watching that piece, I decided to do a little research of my own to learn more about the topic. The one I found to be most infuriating and enraging was state of Louisiana’s 1965 Literacy Test.
Here is a sample of some of the questions, and I am not making them up.
State of Louisiana Literacy Test
Instructions: This test is a qualification for voting for anyone who cannot prove a 5th grade education. Do what you are told to do in each statement, nothing more, nothing less. You may not ask questions during this test. You must score 100% to pass. You have 10 minutes to finish the test.
1. Draw a line around the number or letter of this sentence.
2. Draw a line under the last word of this line.
3. Cross out the longest word in this line.
4. Draw a line around the shortest word in this line.
5. Circle the first, first letter of the alphabet in this line.
6. In the space below, draw three circles, one inside (engulfed) by the other.
7. Above the letter X make a small cross.
8. Draw a line through the letter below that comes earliest in the alphabet.
Z V S B D N K Y T P H C
9. Draw a line through the two letters below that come last in the alphabet.
Z V B D M K T P N S Y C
10. In the first circle below, write the last letter of the first word beginning with “L”.
11. Cross out the number(s) not necessary when making the number below one million.
12. Draw a line from circle 2 to circle 5 that will pass below circle 3 and above circle 4.
13. In the line below, cross out each number that is more than 20 but less than 30.
31 16 48 53 47 22 37 98 26 20 25
14. Draw a line under the first letter after “h” and draw a line through the second letter after “J”.
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q
15. In the space below, write the word “noise” backwards and place a dot over what would be its second letter should it have been written forward.
Amazing, isn’t it? It really is hard to believe that this kind of stuff was happenning in the US only 50 years ago. I guess it has been long enough for the likes of Tom Tancredo. He and the “Tea Party” crowd are trying to turn back the clock and return us to the ‘good old days’ of Jim Crow and segregation when colored folk were not allowed to vote.