William Dawson and the creation of the economic plantation

This is another in a series of Black History Month commentaries offered as part of an oft requested dialogue on race.  It deals with facts, events and perspectives that Democrats and the political left strive to keep out of their version of a “dialogue.” 

There are many politicians who contributed to the plight of Black Americans for the 160 years since the end of the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation.  One man, however, stands out for being the most significant architect of the de facto racist system that has maintained racial segregation and oppression by supplanting constitutional rights with welfare dependency.

While the modern American people are not a racist culture, the last vestige of institutional de facto racism still exists.  It is easy to find.  One merely has to look at where Black Americans are still segregated into communities in which there is a lack of quality education, jobs, safe housing, poor healthcare, public safety, well maintained streets and parks, effective police enforcement and public mobility.  In place of those, there is a high rate of generational welfare dependency that traps millions of Black citizens on a barely survivable economic plantation.

That describes the historic conditions in America’s major cities – virtually all of which are –and have been – in the virtually exclusive one-party control of the Democratic Party for generations.  It explains why virtually all the major race-based protests, demonstrations and riots have occurred in those same cities – triggered by the oppressive effects of systemic or institutional de facto racist policies and practices.

To see the genesis of urban institutional racism, one needs to look to Chicago in the 1930s – and a man named William Dawson.  He played a major role in enslaving millions of Black folks over several generations in segregated impoverished welfare-dependent communities – the economic plantations, as they are appropriately dubbed.

Here is the excerpt from the book.

The Chicago Machine and William Dawson

It was in Chicago that the Latin term de facto was first routinely applied as a modifier in describing a special form of institutional racism.  De facto racism has been more enduring because it is not as obvious as the de jure segregation of the solid Democrat South.  It is not as easily addressed by the courts.

The Chicago Democrats did not invent the votes-for-benefits concept.  That was already the modus operandi of New York’s Tammany Hall since the Eighteenth Century.  The difference was that the Tammany organization, and its imitators, used privately sourced rewards in return for votes, such things as food, coal and, of course, money.  It also might include jobs, obtaining building permits or “fixing” traffic citations.  The Chicago model shifted the “bribes” to taxpayer financed benefits.

The strategy to control the vote through welfare did not occur organically by cultural evolution.  It was a scheme perfected and implemented by the Chicago Democrat Machine.  It was the cynical genius of a man named William Dawson.

Dawson began his political career as a Black Republican in 1930, just as Blacks were switching over to the Democratic Party.  He was elected alderman from Chicago’s Second Ward in 1932 – a ward with a large Black population.

At the time, the white Democrat Committeeman of the Second Ward was Joseph Kittinger.  Following the Democrat’s older strategy, Kittinger doled out jobs and favors to the Ward’s white minority – basically ignoring or discouraging the Negro vote.  The Black community, however, was gaining in numbers and influence, and they demanded that Chicago Mayor Ed Kelly remove Kittinger for a Black ward boss.  Which he did.

In Kittinger’s place, Kelly persuaded Republican Dawson to switch parties in return for controlling patronage in the Second Ward.  As the new ward boss, Dawson developed an ingenious means to control the Negro vote in the all-Black segregated communities.  He literally abandoned the fight for constitutionally grounded civil rights for a new faux “civil right” – access and dependency on welfare.

While Negroes gave Roosevelt overwhelming support in 1932, that loyalty seemed to be weakening in the late 1930s.  As late as 1939, the allegiance of the Black vote to the Democratic Party was still fragile and the Republican Party was gaining as a competitive political force.   The majority of Blacks were registered as Republicans until 1948.

The Black Sub-Machine

Dawson’s influence grew beyond the Second Ward.  He became the go-to man for Chicago’s entire Black population.  He was the boss of what some called “the sub-machine.”  An online website associated with Chicago public television station WTTW stated:

Dawson proved adept at organizing the increasing number of Black Democrats on the South Side and soon consolidated his political power. He effectively used patronage and precinct workers to develop a strong voting bloc that generally gave local, state, and national Democratic candidates impressive majority votes. Dawson would eventually control as many as five wards, forming the city’s first Black political machine.

Based on his rhetoric more than his actions, Dawson became a hero to the Black community.  Like the house slaves of the early Nineteenth Century, however, Dawson’s loyalty was to the white Democrat bosses in City Hall.

According to Christopher Manning in “William L. Dawson and the Limits of Black Electoral Leadership.”

“Dawson was also leader of the African American ‘sub-machine’ within the Cook County Democratic Organization. In the predominantly African American wards, Dawson was able to act as his own political boss, handing out patronage and punishing rivals just as leaders of the larger machine, such as Richard J. Daley, did. However, Dawson’s machine had to continually support the regular machine in order to retain its own clout.

He chose to work on city politics from this stance, rather than to conduct open civil rights challenges, and did not support the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Chicago in the 1960s.”

By 1957, Black leaders, such as Martin Luther King, were pushing back against both de jure racism in the South and the de facto racism in the major cities.  With more aggressive civil rights activism on the rise, The Chicago Defender, a Black publication, said that Dawson as a civil rights leader was “non-committal, evasive, and seldom takes an outspoken stand on anything.”

The Dawson Strategy Goes National

Dawson’s welfare-for-votes was so effective in recruiting and retaining Blacks for the Democratic Party in Chicago that he attracted national attention, including the eye of the President.  FDR saw the value in the Dawson welfare-for-votes strategy.

Dawson was elected to Congress and was named Assistant Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.  His specific responsibility at the DNC was to spread the welfare-for-votes concept to Black voters in other cities.

Black leaders, like Dawson, became part of the established Democrat political machine.  In New York City’s Harlem, Congressmen William Clayton Powell took on the Dawson role under Big Jim Pemberton.  The importance of Dawson, Pemberton and Powell to the Democratic Party was chronicled in a major feature article in Life Magazine in 1944.

(End of excerpt)

As has been the case in the past, the current Black History Month fails to cover all the historical facts of Black history in America –especially the post-Civil War history, which is skewed by political bias in academia, entertainment and the news media.  Much of history recounts the horrors of racial oppression without identifying who was, and is, responsible for the conditions under which millions of Black folks live today.  It is not a natural outcome.  The conditions of life in America’s segregated cities are not the result of Black character traits – as some contend.  It is the willful maintenance of institutionalized oppression for political benefit.

Democrats – for obvious reasons – and the left in general do not want a dialogue on race that covers ALL the facts.  They want only a propagandized version of Black history.

As I have said in the past, Black History Month should be cut back to two weeks, because the American people – Black and White – are only getting half the historic story.

So, there ‘tis.