SCLC Chairman Calls 45’s Effect ‘A Good Thing’

Maury County African American Heritage Society President Jo Ann McClellan, left, stands with Dr. Bernard LaFayette Jr., chairman of the Southern Christian Leadership Board, center, and Maury County Commissioner Gary Stovall, right

By Clint Confehr

COLUMBIA, TN — Donald Trump’s election and administration show progress on civil rights wasn’t as successful as people thought, but it’s not too late to keep history from repeating itself.

That’s according to Dr. Bernard LaFayette Jr., national board chairman of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference who spoke recently at the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.

It’s not too late because civil rights workers of the 1960s are still working on the cause and teaching non-violence tactics, Dr. LaFayette said.

He spoke to the African American Heritage Society of Maury County. It says LaFayette “has devoted his life … to his final marching orders from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 to ‘institutionalize and internationalize nonviolence.’” LaFayette co-founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and helped lead Nashville’s 1960 lunch counter sit-ins and the 1961 Freedom Rides from Nashville.

As for the current political climate, LaFayette said “truth is found” by examining “the broad spectrum” of history repeating itself. “During Reconstruction we had senators … representatives … the right to vote … We went through that period and now it seems we are seeing evidence that some things we thought had changed, had not …

“My own personal opinion, and I don’t attribute it to anybody else; I think it’s a good thing … because you still have some people around who helped things change before, so we have some skills and knowledge about how you do it,” LaFayette said.

Documentaries and other records have been created so a new generation may have “an appreciation for the change that took place,” he said. Furthermore, institutions such as the Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth and Reconciliation have been established to teach tactics of nonviolence so they may be applied to continue the struggle. The Selma Center offers training next month.

Concluding remarks on a political climate permitted by Trump, LaFayette said “45” won’t finish his four-year term because it’s costing him too much.

Being president “is an unexpected burden,” LaFayette explained later. Trump “didn’t realize how much time it would take.” Eventually, he’ll face financial costs, prompting him to step-down, especially if impeachment is pending.

“He’s indicated he could have won the Trump University lawsuit, but he paid a lot of money to settle … If it comes to the point where he’s going to lose a significant part of his money … and his family loses … under those conditions he’d resign … He’s a businessman and he’s not going to give that up.

A man in the audience said segregation wasn’t hidden, but “now it’s called profiling,” so LaFayette was asked, “How can we come back and use what was effective then; that can be transferred … to now … and be effective when we see police violent against us?”

LaFayette replied, “Some think it’s the leaders who talk, but it’s money that talks. You’ve got to find ways to put economic pressure on … You can say all you want, but they won’t hear you … until you apply economic pressure, then they’ll feel you.”

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