Viewing page 18 of 152

[[news article]]
Politics and the Church.
What are the political objectives of Harlem voters? The basic problems considered in national Black protests do not always apply to New York's Afro-Americans. In New York there are already laws against discrimination in employment and housing (although their administration has proved wholly inadequate). The Board of Education actively tries to integrate the city's schools, and in higher education there is practically no discrimination at all. There is probably little or no discrimination in hotels and restaurants. In other words, there are no easy problems left for Blacks in New York City, nor easy solutions. Improvement of the Afro-American's economic position in the city requires radical changes in the nation's power structure. It is evident that this can only be attained through more political positions for Afro-Americans. Congressman Powell in 1960 demanded that Blacks should get 21 per cent of the jobs in a Democratic city administration, since 21 per cent of the enrolled Democrats in Manhattan are Black. At present, Blacks hold only 6 per cent of the high political posts, and yet they are still doing considerably better than Blacks in other large cities. It is easy to demand political positions, but not quite as easy to find capable Black political leaders to fill these positions.

In Harlem the history of political leadership leads directly to the church, in which the Black minister was projected as both the political and spiritual leader of the Black community. Harlem ministers have a long tradition of political involvement. In the past it has always been the Black minister who acted as a political liaison between the downtown bosses and the Black people. These political ministers are no longer dependent upon the downtown bosses for ordered. It is true that many ministers still need the financial support of the city's white community, but it is also evident that those politicians (or ministers) who are most popular in Harlem are those who advocate Black exclusivism and nationalism. This is a highly emotional concept, which advocates the advancement of Black people through the efforts and actions of Black people, excluding all white liberals. These political leaders call for unity of the Black community from the pulpit of their church.  This combination of religion and politics serves several important purposes.  First, large numbers of the Black community can be reached, influenced and educated through the church.  Second, these secular gains attained by political ministers help strengthen the belief in religion and the moral codes advocated by it.  Yet there are religions which advocate the advantages of unified self-defense.  For example, at the height of Malcolm X's career, he could be seen on almost any Sunday afternoon preaching Black unity and self-defense on the corner of 125th Street in Harlem.

Depending upon the era and area of Harlem in which they preach, self-defense or peaceful demonstration will be the slogan of the Harlem politician. It has been said that in this second stage of the Black civil rights movement, peaceful demonstration is no longer the answer. If this is the case, then Harlem's political voices may be preaching street riots from the pulpits.

[[image: woman in cockpit of airplane]]
[[caption: FLORENCE MILLS, 1937/ SHOMBURG COLLECTION, NYPL]]

[[image: Airman in cockpit wearing flight goggles]]
[[caption: Lt. HUBERT JULIAN IN COCKPIT, c.193?5/UPI]]

[[image: photo of three men posing for picture. "Jack" printed on towel.

[/news article]]
Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact transcribe@si.edu.