To those offended by the ‘Taking of a Knee’ movement

SUSAN K. SMITH | 9/17/2018, 12:17 a.m.
I listen with interest and anger to the people who say athletes – African American and those in solidarity with ...

Crazy Faith Ministries

I listen with interest and anger to the people who say athletes – African American and those in solidarity with them – “taking a knee” are disrespecting the flag and, therefore, this country, even as those same people say little to nothing about the administration hob-knobbing with dictators and enemies of this country.

Do they not know the history of oppression and discrimination against Black people in this country in general, and about discrimination practiced against them by the military in particular?

African Americans have fought in every war of this country, eager to support the country that did not support them, but in spite of that, this country treated them like second-class citizens, while they fought in the wars and when they got back home.

While this country waged war against fascism abroad, making it possible for citizens of other countries to have equal rights under the rubric of democracy, Blacks did not have and could not expect that they would be given those same rights in this country.

The Smithsonian Art Museum published a report in which they noted, “The discriminatory practices in the military regarding Black involvement” made it clear that Blacks were not valued. The report said that “prior to 1940, thirty thousand Blacks had tried to enlist in the army but were turned away. In the U.S. Navy, Blacks were restricted to roles as messmen; … they were excluded entirely from the Air Corps and the Marines.”

In Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Executive Order 8802, also known as the Fair Employment Act, racial discrimination was banned. The order said, “It is the policy of the United States to encourage full participation in the national defense program by all citizens of the United States, regardless of race, creed, color or national origin,” but in spite of that, racial discrimination was practiced.

With the contradiction of people fighting for the freedom of others while they themselves were denied the same, FDR realized that the world would look upon the U.S. as hypocrites, thus leading him to sign Executive Order 8802. This he did in spite of the protests of the Secretary of War, Harry Woodring, who said that “the enlistment of Negroes … would demoralize and weaken the effectiveness of units by mixing colored and White soldiers in closely related units…”

It is well documented that African Americans returning from war were treated horribly once they returned home; many Whites apparently resented Blacks in uniform and worked hard to remind them that in America, they were to remember their “place.” There is the well-known story of how African American soldiers were made to stand on a train while German prisoners of war were allowed to sit at tables in the train’s restaurant. Violence against returning soldiers was common. Who can forget the tragic story of Isaac Woodard, who dared ask a bus to stop so he could go to the bathroom and was later attacked by thugs and law enforcement officers who pounded his eyes with their nightsticks until he passed out; his beating left him blind. And yes, he was wearing his uniform when this atrocity occurred.