Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Willie Lynch Letter - Reality or Hoax?

As much as I enjoyed The Great Debaters, I was completely horrified more than once as a professor of American and African American History. Watching the young students in the film study and prepare for their debates, I could not help but think how many people in the audience had actually even heard of Ghandi's principal of non-violence or even read Henry David Thoreau's poetry. I left the movie theater with the hope that many folks exposed to the film would be inspired to learn more about the numerous historical and literary references made in the film.

Yet, I was completely taken aback with the early scene where the Willie Lynch letter was very prominently and strongly mentioned. The Willie Lynch letter has been virtually discounted in most educational circles and the origins of the term "lynching" has been historically traced and credited to others. I forgave the filmmakers because belief about Willie Lynch and his speech was heavily believed in the 1930s and Dr. Melvin Tolson might have actually used the Lynch speech as a teaching tool.

Thinking about it later, I reminded myself of the power of media and how many people accept what they are told without asking any questions. I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything, but I strongly encourage people to do their own investigation. Read the letter for yourself. After reading the letter, take a look at Spelman College professor William Jelani Cobb writing about the letter being an inventive hoax.

For myself I have alway been curious as to why so many black people want to readily and willingly believe in something they have never seen nor experienced. Why does belief in the negative principles of the Willie Lynch letter remain so strong? Is it easier to believe that some white man in the extremely distant past had such an enormous impact on the future of Black America or is it too hard for us to believe that in too many different ways that black people have let one another down?

2 comments:

SheCodes December 27, 2007 at 12:28 AM  

YAY, I FOUND YOUR BLOG!! I'm your #1 fan, so I hope that you don't mind if I hang around.

As for the Willie Lynch letter, I think that it plays perfectly into our racist conspiracy paranoia -- which was justifiably attained. Whites HAVE been that treacherous in the past (for example, the Tuskeegee experiment, etc) ... so we aren't tryna cut them any slack!

The letter also provides a certain rationale/explanation/excuse for black dysfunctionality. It gives us a highly desired 'dysfunction pass'... which is tough to give up.

Blu Hiztory 323 December 27, 2007 at 3:16 PM  

Hey SheCodes -

Glad you found my blog! I'm completely hooked on your new blog! Thanks for the support!

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