Militant Civil Disobedience and an Idea for Fortune’s Bones

February 22, 2012
By Dave Eberhardt

This blog was submitted through our Share Your Story webpage by Dave Eberhardt. Aside from some light edits, we present his story as it was provided to us.

The Fortune’s Bones project and Ms. Barnwell’s work looks impressive. As a member of CORE (vice chair) in Baltimore in the 60s and later a peace protester imprisoned for an anti-war protest, I can identify — I hate it when these things get co-opted — as we used to say — by any power structure, which hopefully it won’t be.

Militant civil disobedience is needed to day, but how many University of Maryland students even know what it is? As Bradley Manning is railroaded at Ft. Meade tomorrow (February 23, 2012), will there be any UMD students there? Not likely. Will there be any professors? Not many! I know Morgan State University students got the message the other night from Cornel West. I was there. (He’s the only adult I can listen to speech-wise. Most adults are phony as three dollar bills.) At the end of West’s presentation, a movie was shown where white students were interviewed about black history month — what they knew about it. “Can you name any black heroes of the civil rights movement?” One guy answers: “Martin Luther?” A girl says, “Will Smith.” West spoke about the prison industrial complex, for example. I know he respects Sweet Honey in the Rock.

Look around you: Have things changed all that much? Blacks imprisoned, inferior housing in ghettoes, segregated schools…

What do you think should be done with Fortune’s bones? I guess it’s complex, but to me — as a veteran of the civil rights movement and a radical activist, as we were then — whatever is done with his bones — be they reinternment or continued display — the most should be made of what is needed to be done to fight racism, clearly. It is still ever present — surrounds us, especially we Southerners.

Were the bones to be displayed, they should be displayed with placards describing the wrongheadedness of owning anybody — let alone Fortune — and what it takes to change attitudes (even a civil war!). It does not take sitting around jawboning! Here’s a couple of questions for ya: Violence or non-violence in our activism? “The revolution STILL will not be televised.” Do you know what that means? If he is reburied it should be with the trappings befitting the funeral of a Martin Luther King — so that the point and pain of struggle in militant, non-violent civil disobedience is not missed and so that more can occur. Subject: as to where to bury the slave’s bones — who to? Let the Republican Central Committee — in whatever state, probably in the South — do it. Let them be the pallbearers … make them dig … in honor of their continuation of lynching and Jim Crow. See their “Southern strategy” still in evidence. (Take South Carolinian crowds applauding Gingrich about our “welfare president:” stone-cold racism, y’all. Can ya dig it.

dave eberhardt peacenik, poet/activist baltimore, md