It seems I spend a good amount of time exposing bigoted white people such as Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. However, throughout history white people have worked with black people to stop slavery Jim Crow and racism. Many of these white people were ostracized, incarcerated or killed for their beliefs. So as Black History Month comes to an end, I feel we honor some of the white people who have played big part in the struggle for African American rights, dignity and progress.
John Brown was an American abolitionist who advocated and practiced armed insurrection as a means to end all slavery. He led the Pottawatomie Massacre in 1856 in Bleeding Kansas and made his name in the unsuccessful raid at Harpers Ferry in 1859. He was tried for treason against the state of Virginia, the murder of five proslavery Southerners, and inciting a slave insurrection and was subsequently hanged. Southerners alleged that his rebellion was the tip of the abolitionist iceberg and represented the wishes of the Republican Party. Historians agree that the Harpers Ferry raid in 1859 escalated tensions that a year later led to secession and the American Civil War.
Beside being a fervent anti-Nazi activist during World War II and a vocal leader of the labor movement, Pete Seeger was very involved in the Civil Rights movement. He performed at many civil rights rallies and popularized and changed the lyrics of We Shall Overcome which became the anthem of the Civil Rights movement.
At request of SNCC I sang in Albany Georgia in 1960, at request of Bob Moses I sang in Greenwood Mississippi in 1964, at request of MLK my wife and I walked for three days from Selma to Montgomery.
I mainly sang, not spoke. Now at age 81, I feel that the Civil Rights Movement showed me and the world that non-violence is the only way the human race can be saved.
From His Song Dear Mr. President in 1942
I’m fightin’ because / I want a better America, and better laws, / And better homes, and jobs, and schools, / And no more Jim Crow, and no more rules like / “You can’t ride on this train ’cause you’re a Negro,” / “You can’t live here ’cause you’re a Jew,”/ “You can’t work here ’cause you’re a union man.”
Seeger would continue making history when he performed Wody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land at Barack Obama‘s Inaugural Concert.
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe was an abolitionist who used her literary talents to expose the evils of slavery. Her book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin is credited as helping rally the abolitionist movement in America.
Harriet Beecher Stowe
“It was God’s will that this nation—both North and South—should deeply and terribly suffer for the sin of consenting to and encouraging the great oppressions of the South… the blood of the poor slave, that had cried so many years from the ground in vain, should be answered by the blood of the sons from the best hearthstones through all the free states.”
In 1862, Stowe went to see Lincoln to pressure him to free the slaves faster. Her daughter Hattie, who was present at the meeting between Stowe and Lincoln, reports the first thing Lincoln said was, “So you’re the little lady who started this Great War.”
She aided runaway slaves after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law. Following the Civil War she built and established several schools and boarding homes for newly freed slaves. Stowe’s influence reached people of all walks of life, from government officials, to nobility, down to the common man.
Besides as being one of the biggest scientific geniuses of all time, Albert Einstein was also an activist against racism. Einstein noticed the parallel between how blacks were treated in the US and how Jews were treated in Nazi Germany.
In 1946, Einstein gave a speech at Lincoln University, an HBCU, and said racism was “a disease of white people,” and said that “I do not intend to be quiet about it.”
Einstein was good friends with both WEB DuBois and Paul Robeson. When an 83 year old DuBois was charged with not registering himself as a foreign agent, Einstein was a character witness for him and helped him get off. DuBois and Robeson were also very good friends. Einstein and Robeson worked together on the American Crusade to End Lynching.
Einstein and Robeson were very good friends and there is a movie in the works about their friendship with Danny Glover Playing Robeson and Ben Kingsley playing Einstein.
There are several notable other white people who played a part in the struggle for black progress. Despite the fact that Abraham Lincoln had some racist views, his attitude towards race was very progressive. John Lennon wrote a lot of amazing songs but also donated to the Black Panther Party and was friends with Bobby Seals. Despite the fact that Malcolm X dissed him, JFK showed a lot of political courage by calling MLK in jail and supporting the Little Rock 9. His brother Bobby did a lot for the civil rights movement as well. Bob Dylan wrote some amazing songs concerning civil rights and performed at the march on Washington.
Who can forget that Barack Obama was raised by his white mother, Ann Dunham and his white grandparents Madelyn “Toots” Payne Dunham whom he described as a quiet hero after her death and Stanley Dunham who fought in World War II.
Great Moments in White History
Watch Bob Dylan Perform at the March on Washington
Watch Pete Seeger Perform This Land is Your Land at Obama’s Inaugural Concert
Watch Robert Kennedy’s Speech After the Death of Dr. King