Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Conservative Viewpoint
- Breaking The Grip Of Dependence

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

Last week my wife and I shared dinner in our home with former South Carolina State Representative and Circuit Court Judge Tee Ferguson, a Democrat. Ferguson recently founded the African -American Policy Council.

Eighteen years ago, Ferguson was sentenced to and served 33 months in prison as the result of an FBI sting operation directed at corruption in the South Carolina House of Representatives. It was called Lost Trust. The charge: accepting $3,000 in bribes to support a pari-mutuel betting bill along with “constructive possession” of cocaine.

Ferguson, who acknowledges taking the money, believes black legislators had been set up. He and other black legislators may have been targeted, perhaps not. But this column is not meant to focus on an 18 year old sting investigation. Instead it’s about a black man who has intimately experienced both sides of the judicial system, providing him with a unique perspective to help lead the fight for black economic justice and equality. He understands his credibility will be questioned by some, yet believes sharing his story can help the African-American community transition from one largely dependent on government assistance, to one of entrepreneurial independence.

Seven-term South Carolina State Rep. Leon Howard, the former chairman of the House Black Caucus remembers Ferguson as one of a handful of up and coming black legislators tirelessly trying to improve the plight of economically enslaved blacks. “They were constantly in the news,” he said. “They were despised by much of the white leadership who saw them as a threat to South Carolina’s racial economic caste system.”

Howard wonders if Ferguson’s arrest along with other members of the Black Caucus weren’t racially motivated. “Half of South Carolina’s black caucus was wiped out,” he said. “These young men were making significant progress in changing the economic dynamics in our state.”

In Feb. 1997, U. S. District Court Judge Falcon Hawkins dismissed charges against five of the former convicted lawmakers, after ruling the feds guilty of egregious prosecutorial misconduct. Ferguson was not one of them, although Hawkins does mention that much of what Ferguson had alleged in his own defense about possible federal misconduct during operation Lost Trust, was becoming evident. Hawkins’ ruling eventually was overturned by the U. S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Ferguson served the remainder of his sentence

Looking back, Ferguson says that integrating public schools didn’t help blacks. Black schools were historically the center of the black community, he says. “Students learned of accomplished black men like Frederick Douglas, Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver; and of black women like Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman and Ida-Wells Barnett. But now their “progressive” integrated education robs them of their most prized possession-- their historical black identity.”

Ferguson first became aware of his skin color in his senior year of high school when he began attending an integrated school. An A student in English he says he worked hard on his first English paper and received a C. He couldn’t believe it! On his next paper he wrote only his name at the top of his notepad and handed it in. His grade:—C. When he asked his white teacher for an explanation, she cried without any further clarification. “For the first time I knew I was different,” he says.

Ferguson says that many blacks think acting white is always cooler. He says that blacks often side with whites. He recalls trying to sponsor legislation to stop tons of toxic waste from being dumped next to heavily populated black communities in the state. Members of his own caucus wouldn’t go along because of the “pressure” they were feeling from white Democrats.

Ferguson speaks of “get out the vote money” many pastors receive from Democrats in return for delivering Democratic votes on Election Day. “These pastors too must be held partially responsible for the deteriorating plight of black society and culture,” he says.

Ferguson cites welfare as also problematic. “Women are actually paid for breaking up their families because they receive larger welfare payments when there’s no man in the house,” he says. “They’re also financially rewarded for each additional child.” Ferguson says that in his youth, when a black man fathered a child and didn’t provide support, the other black men in the community would literally kick him in his hind quarters.

Ferguson believes it’s not the black communities that are poor; it’s what they do with the resources they have. African-Americans had spending power of $900 billion in `08. “The problem is not money; it’s the failure of black Americans to invest in themselves,” Ferguson says. He hopes his non-profit African-American Policy Council can help change the dynamics by enlisting the support of successful white, Hispanic and Asian business people who can help instruct and then shepherd potential and existing black entrepreneurs to economic startups and viability.

While Ferguson’s personal story may be somewhat unique, his message is not. Last month he was joined at a press conference in North Carolina by representatives from two other black organizations. They all questioned black leadership. Joining Ferguson on the dais was Carl White from the NAACP District 11, and Tony Riddick, chairperson of Righteous United Through Harmony (TRUTH). Each addressed concerns related to the needs of blacks from an historic, socio-economic, religious and moral perspective and the changes that will be necessary to turn their fortunes around.

“Blacks need to understand on Election Day it can no longer be simply about color and political party,” Ferguson says. “It’s about supporting candidates who will work to provide black people the opportunity to become self sufficient so as a race we can begin to stand on our own. Clearly that hasn’t been happening.”

I wish Bob luck. He is continuing a campaign that I supported for a long time. That campaign is to have all people treated the same in a free society. However I have personally stopped believing it can happen. A greater percentage of Republicans voted for civil rights bills and fought for civil rights than did Democrats. Yet when Lyndon Johnson started his ‘Great Society’ of welfare, blacks abandoned the Republican Party like it had been the party that kept them down.

Today, you never stop hearing from the majority of this 13% of our population, that “It is our turn on top. Honkeys owe us!” Affirmative action has had the incredible result that close to half, not 13% but half, of our movies star a black hero and a white joke. Hollywood and sports have created the national reality that this minor part of our population is disproportionately represented on TV and in the movies. In one evening recently I counted the commercials featuring blacks versus featuring whites. 65% of the commercials featured this 13% of our population. Why is it that lopsided?

Colin Powell is a perfect example of black culture. No matter how much he excelled in a Republican culture that was willing to give him a chance without regard to color, when it came down to the chance to vote for a black man, in the last election Powell voted for a man based on color, not character. Barack Obama has never shown that he is a patriot. Powell did not care. Black is more important than beliefs to Colin Powell. There are a number of black conservatives who I admire. However after Colin Powell, I will never fully trust any black ever again. They are the most racist culture in our society.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home