Reader’s Forum — Sadie Moore Stewart

I hope that this book is on the reading list at HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). In fact I would like to suggest if not, that Ali reach out. As a Native of Tuskegee, Alabama, I was particularly pleased that you provided, by example, the political nature of the late great Booker T. Washington.

A former slave from Virginia who led the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, Washington would become the most widely known and influential black leader in the nation after the passing of Frederick Douglass. Unlike Douglass, however, Washington publicly eschewed political action, although he fought behind the scenes against black disenfranchisement. In 1895, the year Douglass passed away, Washington made his famous statement at the Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition supporting segregation and urging industrial education for African Americans. As he put it, ‘In all things
that are purely social, we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.’ His views were embraced by most Southern white leaders (and his programs funded by Northern white businessmen) since they did not pose a political threat to the established order. Nevertheless, while preaching social accommodation and rejecting calls for black political participation, Washington gave his backing to candidates through his ‘Tuskegee Machine,’ the name given to his considerable network of influence via his educational and business ventures. He privately financed several legal cases against electoral discrimination, in 1900 contesting a grandfather clause enacted in Louisiana, and in 1903 and 1904 funding the legal challenges Giles v. Hams and Giles v. Teasley against discriminatory voter registration practices in Alabama. The Supreme Court threw both Giles cases out on technicalities.10

Ali, Omar H., In the Balance of Power (p. 105). Ohio University Press. Kindle Edition.

Hopefully your perspective will be one that is preserved through history.

It is almost as if third party movements are automatically a part of the two-party system. Which is scary when you think about it. Are we being used to do the work of the legislators? Since they know that they will have to compromise to get anything done.Or, if it were not for third party movements there would be no legislative efforts on behalf of the people.


Jackie Salit’s last two paragraphs in the afterword summarize the question I have been asking for years. Her statement suggests a lack of a proverbial “they”:

Ali documents the unlikely cross-racial and often cross-ideological coalitions that have appeared and reappeared over time with controversial and visionary black leaders Frederick Douglas, Walter Pattillo, W.E.B. Du Bois, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., and Lenora Fulani at the helm. There is historical precedent. But today’s political crisis demands more than just precedent. Today there is also a profound weakening of governing and political institutions, of parties and ideology and public trust. The consent of the governed is slipping away. While the stranglehold of party loyalty is at an apex, the public desire for political freedom, for choice, for mobility, and for development among ordinary Americans is spreading. New institutions based on new partnerships and ways of being must be built.

But today’s political crisis demands more than just precedent. Today there is also a profound weakening of governing and political institutions, of parties and ideology and public trust,”

Salit, Jacqueline, In the Balance of Power (p. 175). Ohio University Press. Kindle Edition.


I grew up at a time when “they” summarized the entire white race. That is how far removed we were from the power structure. As we became more involved, educated, etc. we understood that “they” was divided into two groups, but never was there a question that “they “stood for what we now know to have been Standard Oil, the Rockefellers, Carnegies Etc. In other words THE WORLD CAPITALISTS, not necessarily all whites.

On the plantation, the distinctions were quite clear. But after the abolishment, poor whites struggled to exercise their “at least we are not black” version of superiority that Jackie quoted Baldwin as having written.

I submit that there is no identifiable “THEY” at present. The diversity of the wealth has made it impossible to identify who benefits exactly from what specific policies. Instead of this making “strange bedfellows,” it makes for no bedfellows. Of course, the fallback privately owned federal reserve is the all-time “they.” But it has no identity.

Thus enters Trump. He identified the proverbial they and at the same time vilified that “they.” It is why those whites that voted for Obama voted for Trump. Obama gave them an easy contrast with the “they” that they despised, and subsequently blamed for their “bad luck” in life.

It is no surprise to me that there is evidence that quite a few of the terrorists (deliberately not in quotation marks) of January 6 were in serious financial trouble, i.e. bankruptcy, repossessions, etc. So the question becomes is there no longer a Proverbial They? Are we too divided for a Proverbial They? Has self-interest (diverse income sources) done away with party loyalty? Which is why Trump has no party loyalty. His policies (that count as far as this discussion goes) were transparently decided in favor of his selfish needs.

The influence of Tech Companies may have reduced the power of past “theys.” Could you imagine the proverbial “they” being a foreign power? Does the New World Order represent the confluence necessary to unite the global elite? Are they, the “they”? Is this why the country is in such a confused state?


Sadie Moore Stewart is a 70 year old black lawyer and independent activist from Ohio.


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Founder of the Politics for the People free educational series and book club for independent voters. Chair of the New York County Independence Party.

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