Hidden Gems: Moynihan Report Pt 2 - Chapter 1: The Negro American Revolution

10:00 AM

Welcome back! Today we continue our look at the Moynihan Report as we dive into Chapter 1: The Negro American Revolution. For those just joining us, take a look back at the introductory post to get caught up on Daniel P. Moynihan, who he is, how I found out about him, and the background on his report The Negro Family: The Case for National Action.

Chapter 1: the Negro American Revolution, as I interpret it, is a recap of how Moynihan sees the state of Negro life in general and his suggestions on creating an amicable and equitable environment for the race. It is split into three sections, The End of the Beginning, The Demand for Equality, and The Prospect for Equality.

Below are select passages from this chapter that stood out to me, whether it be for its connection to the state of the Black America today, or the controversial nature of the language, I encourage you to go and read the chapter in whole for yourself.

"The course of world events will be profoundly affected by the success or failure of the Negro American Revolution seeking peaceful assimilations of the races of the US"
When I read this I was immediately taken to the time magazine on the right. I feel as if any hope of assimilation has now been resigned, and that at this point a mutual existence is what is desired. Back at the time of the writing of this report segregation was just ending so "assimilation" would have been a reasonable desire for the Black community at the time.

The End of the Beginning: 
Photo Source
This portion of the chapter is where the past and present began to parallel embodying the magazine cover above. Moynihan writes of the major events that onsets the Negro Revolution coming in three forms Political, Administrative, and Legal. In the past 3-5 years we have seen all three of these take form.
  •  Legal: At the time Brown v Board of Education (1954) was a major legal event for the Black community in desegregating schools. In present day, it is the investigations of cities and their police departments that have become the major legal events of the movement. See the Department of Justice reports for the cities of Ferguson, MO and Baltimore, MD following the killings of Mike Brown and Freddie Gray respectively.

The Demand for Equality: 
"Liberty and Equality are the twin ideals of American democracy. But they are not the same thing. Nor most importantly, are they equally attractive to all groups at any given time nor yet are they always compatible, with one another.
Many person who would gladly die for liberty are appalled by equality. Many who are devoted to equality are puzzled and even troubled by liberty. Much of the political history of the American nation can be seen as competition between these two ideals, as for example, the unending troubles between capital and labor" 
"American democracy has not always been successful in maintaining a balance between these two ideals, and notably so where the Negro American is concerned. 'Lincoln freed the slaves' but they were given liberty, not equality. It was therefore possible in the century that followed to deprive their descendants of much of their liberty as well." 
The Prospect for Equality: 
Here Moynihan wraps up the first chapter with the conclusion that not enough data was available to present a clear conclusion on how the future will pan out for the Negro people with any particular recommended course of action. However, he does start his conclusion with the sentence:
"The time, therefore, is at hand for an unflinching look at the present potential of Negro Americans to move from where they now are to where they want and ought to be"
 This reminded me of a video David Banner posted after the 2016 Presidential Election concluded with a call to action for Black people to galvanize and not look to one specific leader to heal the hurting community. 

Again, my goal is to spark conversation, and just to inform you that this report even exists. As we delve into the other chapters we will see more examples of how Moynihan's words were relevant to the current times. The next post will be on Chapter 2: The Negro American Family.

Post 1: Intro

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