The Black Man in America

by Paul R. Hollrah
August 28, 2020

The history of African Americans in the United States spans a period of 401 years, from August 1619, when the first slave ship arrived at Jamestown, until May 25, 2020, when a black man named George Floyd was murdered by white police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  That 401-year period can be divided into three distinct phases:

1)  The Bondage era: The 243-year period between the arrival of the first slave ship in 1619 and
      the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862;
2)  The Jim Crow era: The 92-year period between emancipation and the 1954 Brown v. Board
     of Education
decision, a period when black men were legally emancipated but brutally
     oppressed by Black Codes, Jim Crow Laws, and Democratic lynch mobs; and
3)  The Wasted years: The 66-year period between the Brown v. Board of Education decision
      and the pointless death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in May 2020. 

So, the question arises, how will historians describe the next phase of the black man’s life in America?  How will we get beyond the lost opportunities of the wasted years when African Americans in great numbers turned their backs on their shot at the American Dream, choosing instead to trade their votes and their political allegiance for a vast array of social welfare programs that proved to be so destructive of the family unit and so poisonous to the human spirit?  Can we get beyond the damage that has been done to our culture and to our future destiny during the wasted years… especially during the months of June, July, and August 2020?   

It is hard to imagine today, in the year 2020, the total absence of human compassion that allowed otherwise decent, self-professed Christians to believe that it was okay to purchase black slaves and to use the threat of the lash to force them to do the menial housework and the backbreaking farm chores that they, themselves, refused to do.  It was a time when slave-masters found no moral impediment to such inhumane practices as the sexual domination of female slaves and the dissolution of entire families, when the children of slaves were literally torn from the arms of their anguished mothers and sold at auction in the town square.

The Democratic Party, dominated by pro-slavery advocates, was founded in 1792, just four years after the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.  During the ratification process, as a means of gaining equity in congressional representation with the more populous states of the Northeast, Democrats callously used their new-found political power to force the adoption of a clause giving slave states the inhumane legal authority to count slaves as just three-fifths of a person. 

In 1833, as the opposition to slavery grew among citizens of the Northeast and the Midwest, local anti-slavery groups began to organize.  Finally, in July 1854, anti-slavery groups met in Jackson, Michigan, for the purpose of forming a new political party, the Republican Party, founded out of mutual opposition to the expansion of slavery to states on the Western frontier.  The Republican Party’s first official platform contained a plank proclaiming: “Congress did not have the right to recognize slavery, but should have an obligation and a right to abolish it.”

With the two sides of the issue clearly defined, the American people fell into a tense and sometimes bloody coexistence.  For example, on May 21, 1856, a large contingent of pro-slavery Missouri Democrats, heavily armed and towing a cannon, attacked and ransacked Lawrence, Kansas, a town founded by abolitionist settlers who hoped to achieve statehood as a free state.  Two abolitionist newspapers were destroyed and a number of other buildings, including the Free State Hotel, were burned to the ground.

Before the flames were fully extinguished in Kansas, Republican Senator Charles Sumner delivered a fiery speech on the Senate floor, condemning slavery and the Kansas invasion.  As he spoke, South Carolina Democrat Preston Brooks crept up behind him and struck him violently over the head with a cane, knocking him unconscious.  When Republican senators came to his aid, they were attacked by other Democrats and a major fist fight ensued.  When we see evil men such as Lyndon Johnson, Robert Byrd, George Mitchell, Harry Reid, and Chuck Schumer on the senate floor, how can we not recall that they stand in the footsteps of Preston Brooks? 

As the years passed, the divide between Democrats and Republicans widened.  Finally, on December 17, 1860, South Carolina became the first majority Democratic state to secede from the Union over the issue of slavery.  And just months later, on April 12, 1861, pro-Democratic forces launched an attack on federal troops at Fort Sumter.  The attack on Fort Sumter marked the official beginning of a civil war between Democrats and Republicans, a four-year war that produced nearly 650,000 casualties.  However, as battles raged across the South, President Lincoln took steps to put an end to the issue of slavery.  On September 22, 1862, he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, bringing an end to the Bondage era of the black man in America and, unknowingly, launching the Jim Crow era. 

As the Jim Crow era began, Republicans wasted no time in amending the U.S. Constitution and adopting the statutes necessary to fully implement the Proclamation.  During the closing years of the 19th century, Republicans authored and enacted the 13th Amendment, outlawing slavery (1864); the Civil Rights Act of 1866; the 14th Amendment, granting citizenship to the freed slaves (1866); the Reconstruction Act of 1867; the 15th Amendment, guaranteeing voting rights for freed slaves (1869); the Force Act of 1871, enforcing voting rights for freed slaves; the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, outlawing Democratic terror groups; and the Civil Rights Act of 1875.

But Democrats were also busy.  In the Democrat-controlled legislatures of the South, they enacted the Black Codes, establishing for whom African Americans could or could not work, the type of work they could do, as well as evening curfews and travel restrictions.  As a means of intimidating the freed slaves and forcing them to vote for Democratic candidates, they founded the Ku Klux Klan (1866) and other terror groups.  In the years between 1882 and 1951, the Democrats lynched some 3,437 blacks and 1,293 whites, nearly all Republicans.  Beginning in 1875, Democrat-controlled legislatures enacted the Jim Crow laws, dictating where blacks could live, where they could eat and sleep, which restrooms and drinking fountains they could use, and where they could sit in movie theaters and on buses and trains.  Finally, in 1894, Democrats enacted the Repeal Act of 1894, which sought to repeal all of the civil rights legislation enacted by Republican in the previous thirty years.

Such was the relationship between blacks and the Democrat Party between 1792, when the party was founded, and 1954, the beginning of the Wasted years, when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Brown v. Board of Education decision, outlawing the concept of “separate but equal” in public accommodations.  It was then that Democrats came to the cynical conclusion that, if they could no longer oppress blacks by force and violence, as they had throughout the Jim Crow era, they would proceed to purchase their allegiance with funds from the public treasury.

The immediate result was the Kennedy-Johnson War on Poverty.  And while young blacks had access to the stories of giants such as George Washington Carver, Frederick Douglass, and Booker T. Washington, white Democrats found that it was not in the best interest of their party for young blacks to see such men as role models.  Instead, at the behest of self-appointed race hustlers such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, blacks offered themselves as an all-but-unified voting bloc with 90-95% of their votes going to the Democrats who bought and paid for them.

The relationship between blacks and liberals during the wasted years has not been a beneficial one for blacks.  And while white liberals and Democrats have benefitted immensely from the captive black vote, blacks have received only crumbs from the Democratic table.  One does not have to be a psychologist to understand that the recent violence in Ferguson, Chicago, Kenosha, Minneapolis, New York, Portland, and St. Louis; as well as the countless black-on-black killings  and drive-by shootings in black neighborhoods, is evidence that frustration and hopelessness among blacks is fast approaching critical mass… especially among young black males.    

When an entire racial minority comes to the sudden realization that they’ve been played for fools for nearly sixty years, the only result can be crushing disappointment and a deep seething anger.  After raising the expectations of black Americans to the skies, Democrats have failed miserably on their promise to deliver social and economic parity with whites. 

So, now that the wasted years have come to a bitter end and the rule of law has been reduced to nothing more than a useless concept of a bygone era among young blacks, and since it is unlikely that white entrepreneurs will now be willing to establish businesses and provide jobs in minority neighborhoods, where do we go from here?  

Even if young black males were willing and able to make an almost instantaneous transition from their tough street personae to something akin to a Wally Cleaver stereotype, would whites trust and accept the transition?  Not likely.  It would take generations of young black men being on their best behavior for whites to accept them as they were when the close of the Jim Crow era brought with it the promise of a bright future for all.

When author Gary Wills published a book titled The Second Civil War: Arming for Armageddon in 1968, I purchased a hardback copy for my library.  Now, with the rioting, looting, and arson following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, I thought it was finally time to read it.  On the cover, Wills added a quotation, which reads, “Our crime is not that America is white, but that we do not even know it is.  The Negro does.  He knows it every time a policeman passes… this is two countries… war could arise between the two.”   How do we avoid it?  Can we?


Paul R. Hollrah is a retired government relations executive and a two-time member of the U.S. Electoral College.  He currently lives and writes among the hills and lakes of northeast Oklahoma’s Green Country.

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A Conversation on Race

In his chilling account of the social and economic turbulence in which we now find ourselves – an essay written for the May 11, 2020 edition of The American Spectator, titled “A Time to Hate” – Rabbi Dov Fischer sets the stage by quoting from the Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3:

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven;

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that
 which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up…

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

These are all part of the human experience, the realities of life that most of us encounter during our lifetime.  We’re born, we grow up, we plant, we harvest, we create new life, and if we are so blessed, we play a positive role in the lives of others.  On the other hand, some of us die in infancy or childhood, some of us waste our lives on drugs and alcohol, and some of us lead lives of “quiet desperation” from beginning to end.

Rabbi Fischer goes on to say that he believes most people have the potential for goodness and that he has always tried to find the good in people, until they ultimately prove to him that they have no capacity for good.  Sadly, as he follows the daily reports of violence and looting by Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and other Democratic Party “auxiliaries,” he is now forced to admit that he has “learned to hate.”

How many times will we have to hear of the untimely death of another black man at the hands of police officers because the victim chose not to comply with the lawful orders of the arresting officers?  How many young black men will continue to ignore their parents oft-repeated caution, “If you don’t want the police to shoot you, don’t resist arrest!?”  And will the racial hatred and violence resulting from the brutal murder of George Floyd provide us with a much needed turning point in race relations?    

In the 401 years since the arrival of the first slave ship at Jamestown on August 13, 1619, we have made significant progress in race relations.  But all of that progress was wiped away in just eight minutes and forty-seven seconds when George Floyd resisted arrest and Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, placed a knee across his throat, cutting off his air supply and killing him.     

As it did when Clayvon Martin lost his life while assaulting a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Florida, on February 26, 2012; when Eric Garner died while resisting arrest in an altercation with NYPD officers on August 9, 2014; when Michael Brown lost his life while attempting to kill a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on July 17, 2014; when Freddie Gray lost his life in police custody in Baltimore on April 12, 2015; and when Alton Sterling was shot to death while resisting arrest in Baton Rouge on July 5, 2016, these episodes created a call from all sides of the political spectrum for a “long conversation” about race and race relations.  But when do those conversations begin?  Have any of us, black or white, held such conversations with other members of our community, black or white?  Probably not.  If others are holding such conversations I haven ‘t been invited to participate.  

Since 1988, I have lived in the middle of the Cherokee reservation in eastern Oklahoma, the largest Indian reservation in the nation, comprising all or part of fourteen Oklahoma counties.  But the Cherokees don’t riot, and they don’t loot.  They are gentle, hard-working, peace-loving people.  And because of the extent to which whites have inter-married with native Americans, it is often impossible to tell which of my friends and neighbors carry Cherokee blood and which do not.  Because inter-marriage between whites and those with native American bloodlines has been commonplace for nearly two centuries, those with a substantial amount of native American blood speak of it with pride.  Unlike the white liberals who are offended by the names of sports teams such as the Redskins, the Indians, or the Braves, they carry their Indian blood with pride.

What Americans of European descent cannot fully appreciate is the ethnic epiphany that all black children experience.  Like white children, black children and native American children begin life convinced that once each year, in the early spring, a very large rabbit visits every house in their neighborhood, leaving behind quantities of colored eggs, chocolate rabbits, marshmallow peeps, and plastic eggs containing small amounts of cash.  It is a belief system that all children share and which they continue to hold until, at some point, someone blurts out the truth of the matter.  There’s no such thing as an Easter Bunny.

But the favorite of all children is a gnome known round the world as Santa Claus, or Saint Nick.  He is their favorite nocturnal visitor because he is the most generous.  He can be counted upon to unload a treasure trove of toys and gifts far beyond anything the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy might deliver.  What most kids find so “cool” about Santa is that it’s possible to write to him at the North Pole, listing everything their heart desires, and then expect that most, if not all, of those wishes will show up under the family tree on Christmas Eve.

But learning the truth about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy is one thing.  It is a brief disappointment that soon passes.  But what about black children who can see at an early age that they, because of the color of their skin, are different from white children, and that, because of their skin color, they can expect to be treated differently in most professional and social settings.  That racial awakening comes at an early age and is constantly reinforced throughout their lifetimes. 

How can they not wonder, were the black children they saw romping playfully among the bloated corpses floating in bloody Rwandan river waters in 1994 their distant cousins?  And why are black people around the world still wearing loin cloths and living in mud huts, when those of European and Oriental descent enjoy all of the comforts provided by 21st century technology?  Surely, they must wonder by what cosmic miscalculation their skin color plays such a major role in where they live, how they earn a living, and what they might achieve in their lifetimes. 

But most of us have black friends and acquaintances who have not allowed their skin color to be an impediment to their success.  Some are physicians, business owners, and executives; some are college professors, and some are scientists and engineers.  These opportunities are available to everyone in America.  The difference between the successful and those who are less successful is that their parents understood the formula for success in the modern world and had the wisdom to see to it that their children’s skin color would not be a major factor in their success or failure.

Those parents understood that, in order to achieve social and economic success in 20th and 21st century society, there are certain requirements that must be met.  Children must be in school, on time, every day.  They must behave themselves, they must obey all the rules of classroom decorum, and while they’re in the classroom they must pay close attention to what the teachers are attempting to impart. 

Outside the classroom, they must be on their best behavior, they must stay out of trouble, and they must faithfully complete all of their homework assignments.  When they’ve completed their schooling and entered the work force, they must develop a work ethic that has them at their workplace every day, on time, appropriately dressed and groomed, and prepared to give their employer at least eight hours of their best effort in exchange for eight hours pay.

America is a land of unlimited opportunity.  All that is required to achieve great economic success is to follow the simple formula outlined above.  Failing to take advantage of educational opportunities and the failure to stay out of trouble are not part of a winning formula.  To acquire a lengthy police record by age twenty or twenty-one is not the way to “make it” in America.

So, who are those thugs, black and white, male and female, who fill the streets of Portland, Seattle, Chicago, and other major cities on a nightly basis?  They are the unfortunate children of parents who have failed us and who have failed their own children.  It is they who make it impossible for us to confront racial issues honestly and forthrightly. 

Men such as Barack Obama and Eric Holder have been especially insistent that we have a national conversation about race, but it is impossible to have an open and honest conversation with men of such questionable character. 

Since the day that Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Democrats have been interested in nothing more than black votes, no matter what price they had to pay to acquire them.  Until African Americans fully understand the sinister nature of their relationship with the Democrat Party, we can never have the kind of honest conversation that politicians of both political parties, black and white, insist that we have.  It is, and always has been, the responsibility of the Republican Party and Republican elected officials to see to it that all of our black citizens are fully aware of their post-Civil War political history.  Unfortunately, our Republican leaders have not been up to the task and the American people are now being forced to pay a huge price for their inadequacy.  

Paul R. Hollrah is a retired government relations executive and a two-time member of the U.S. Electoral College.  He currently lives and writes among the hills and lakes of northeast Oklahoma’s Green Country.

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Vetting Kamala Harris

As a two-time member of the US Electoral College, I have researched the issue of presidential eligibility quite thoroughly and I believe I have developed an understanding of what the Founders intended that many in the political world still refuse to acknowledge.

Most significantly, the Founders rightly understood that the most influential factor in a child’s upbringing is the parenting he/she receives as a child, and that the cultural, philosophical, political, and religious influence of a child’s parents fundamentally establishes the direction of his/her future conduct and intellectual development.  Accordingly, what the Founders feared most, and what caused them to limit access to the presidency only to “natural born” citizens was the fear that a future president… during his formative years and during the years in which he was developing intellectually… would be exposed to an environment or an ideology which might cause him to reject the values and the principles embodied in the U.S. Constitution. 

That is why the Framers understood a “natural born” citizen to be a person who was born to parents, both of whom were US citizens at the time of his birth.  That requirement provided no absolute guarantee that we would not one day find a dedicated socialist in the White House, but it provided at least some insurance against such an occurrence.  To understand the Framers’ concerns, one need only examine the leftist political influences that caused Barack Obama to seek to “fundamentally change” the government and the culture of the greatest nation on Earth.  

Another example of what caused such concern among the Framers is Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who, along with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA), failed to meet the “natural born” standard required by Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution.  Born in Canada, Cruz’s father was a citizen of Cuba who, as a teenager, was a member of the Cuban resistance headed by Fidel Castro.  He made his way to the United States in 1957, enrolled at the University of Texas, and graduated in 1961with a degree in mathematics.  Later, after being transferred to Calgary, Alberta, by his employer and acquiring Canadian citizenship, he and his wife became parents of a son, Raphael Edward “Ted” Cruz, the current junior senator from the State of Texas and a leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. 

During that campaign, the American people were led to believe that the Cruzes, both father and son, were solidly anti-Communist.  But that’s only what we were told.  What if the opposite had been true?  What if the elder Cruz had been a dedicated Communist, a Fidelista in sheep’s clothing?  And what if he’d spent decades indoctrinating his son behind closed doors in all the benefits of life in a socialist Utopia?  His son, a conservative firebrand in the U.S. Senate, would have become the prototypical “Manchurian Candidate.”  It is precisely that sort of familial background that caused the Framers to limit access to the presidency only to the “natural born.”

But now, just three months prior to the 2020 presidential election, we find that the tendency of Democrats to embrace style over substance rearing its ugly head once again.  As they did with Barack Obama in 2008, they are offering for our consideration a candidate who is not eligible to serve as president or vice president.  I refer, of course, to the junior senator from California, Kamala Harris, who is touted by leading Democrats and mainstream media sycophants as the leading contender to be the Democratic Party’s candidate for vice president in November.

Harris’s mother, Shyamala Gopalan, emigrated to the US from India in 1960 and her father, Donald Harris, emigrated to the US from Jamaica in 1961.  Under U.S. law, an individual cannot apply for citizenship until they’ve held a “green card” for a minimum of five years.  Kamala Harris was born on October 20, 1964.  At best, her mother was a legal non-citizen resident of the US for just 4 years, 9 months, and 20 days when Sen. Harris was born.  Her father was, at best, a legal non-citizen resident for just 3 years, 9 months, and 20 days when she was born.  Neither of Senator Harris’s parents could possibly have been a U.S. citizen when she was born.  Therefore, she cannot claim status as a “natural born” citizen, as required by the U.S. Constitution.

What few Americans recognize is that there are only two (2) jobs in the entire United States… public sector and private sector combined… that require the incumbents to be “natural born” citizens.  Those two jobs are President and Vice President of the United States.   The term “natural born,” by its very nature, implies that the “quality” of an individual’s citizenship must be absolute… totally unencumbered by any modifying terms such as “dual,” “naturalized,” or “birthright.”  Ms. Harris can be Mayor of San Francisco, she can be Governor of California, she can be a Federal Judge, she can even be Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.  None of those jobs require “natural born” status.  But unless her parents were both US citizens when she was born, she cannot hold either the presidency or the vice presidency.  If she was born on American soil, to legal resident aliens, she is considered to be a US citizen, but just being born on US soil does not make one a “natural born” citizen.  One must be born of two US citizen parents in order to qualify as “natural born.” 

When the Framers met in Philadelphia in September 1787 to approve the final draft of the U.S. Constitution, the physical scars of the War of Independence were still visible all around them and a deep-seated animosity toward all things British colored every aspect of their daily lives.  So, is it even remotely conceivable that, just five years and eleven months after the British surrendered at Yorktown, the Founders would have presented to the states for ratification a Constitution that would have allowed an individual with dual/divided loyalties – e.g. an individual with dual US-British citizenship – to serve as president of the United States and commander-in-chief of the Army and the Navy?  Not likely.  It is a preposterous notion on its face.  To believe that they would have done so requires a willing suspension of reason. 

Nevertheless, the consensus among many in the political/legal world today is that the terms “Citizen” and “natural born Citizen” are synonymous.  They are not!!  So, the question arises, is there proof of the contention that the Framers intended the terms “Citizen” and “natural born Citizen” to be mutually exclusive?  The answer is yes.  It all revolves around the purpose and the meaning of the word “or,” preceding a “grandfather clause” in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution.

The Constitution requires that, in addition to being a “natural born” citizen and a resident of the United States for at least fourteen years, those who would seek the presidency must be at least thirty-five years of age.  However, the only “natural born” citizens available on June 21, 1788, the day the Constitution was ratified, were children under twelve years of age.  To solve that problem, the Framers added a “grandfather clause,” making it possible for newly-minted US citizens… all residents of the United States for at least fourteen years and all at least thirty-five years of age, but none of them “natural born” because they were born to parents who were not US citizens prior to the Declaration of Independence… to serve as president.  This was necessary until such time as a body of individuals, born to U.S. citizen parents subsequent to July 4, 1776, reached age thirty-five.

Because they were born to non-US citizens prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the first seven presidents of the United States – Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, J.Q. Adams, and Jackson – were all “citizens” of the United States, but none were “natural born” citizens because their parents were not US citizens at the time of their birth.  

However, Martin Van Buren, our eighth president, was born at Kinderhook, New York on December 5, 1782, six years and five months after the Declaration of Independence.  Unlike his seven predecessors, he was not just a “citizen,” he was a “natural born” citizen… the first president, at least thirty-five years of age, who was born to US citizen parents after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 

A great many patriotic, but ill-informed, Americans refuse to accept the fact that, while the Founders intended that only “natural born” citizens should ever serve as president, there were no 35-year-old “natural born” citizens available during the first 35 years of our nation’s history. Accordingly, it became necessary to provide an exemption of limited duration covering those citizens born prior to July 4, 1776.  All were “grandfathered” and made eligible under the phrase, “or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution…”

Every U.S. president since Van Buren… with the exception of Republican Chester A. Arthur, whose Irish father was reportedly a British subject at the time of his birth, and Democrat Barack Obama, whose Kenyan father was also a British subject at the time of his birth… has been a “natural born” U.S. citizen, as required by Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution. 

The Framers found it inconceivable that a president of the United States, commander in chief of the Army and the Navy, should ever hold even partial allegiance to a foreign nation or be required to obey the laws of a foreign nation, as is the case with all dual citizens.  It is for this reason that the Constitution limits candidates for president and vice president to those who are “natural born” citizens,and to those who were citizens of the United States at the time the Constitution was adopted.  Were that not the case, and had the Framers considered the terms “citizen” and “natural born Citizen” to be synonymous, Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution would now read, simply, “No Person except a Citizen of the United States shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.” In 2008, Democrats were able to craftily define the issue as one relating to Barack Obama’s place of birth, and to label those who insisted he lacked eligibility by reason of not being born on American soil as “birthers.”  It became the deadly “third rail” of the 2008 campaign, effectively preventing any honest debate of the issue.  Thus, on two occasions in our political history we have allowed the presidential eligibility requirements of Article II, Section 1 to be twisted and contorted to fit the political mood of the day.  We cannot allow that to happen again.  We cannot allow our Constitution to be amended by popular fiat.  If Kamala Harris were to be properly vetted, she would be found to lack the qualifications necessary to the office of Vice President.

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