Commissioner Coonrod Is The Leadership We Need - And Response

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

If we ever needed an example of the kind of leadership the black community needs as opposed to the kind it doesn't need, it's the issue of the BID currently under consideration. 

The NAACP actually claims a self imposed tax on merchants to make areas of downtown safer and cleaner is racist and will bring back the Jim Crow days. We have been hearing this kind of claptrap from the professional victims in the NAACP for years. And black people continue to be the poorest (despite record low unemployment rates in their community) and the black achievement gap in education hasn't moved.

So maybe it is time to try something different. Commissioner Coonrod pretty much destroyed the NAACP and its sycophants in her statement released yesterday.  I don't remember seeing any, "no blacks allowed," signs downtown like in the 50s when I was growing up. Why, I actually see black people riding in the front of the bus. Commissioner Coonrod represents the kind of leadership needed in her community in the 21st century.

I am happy to admit I was 100 percent wrong on Ms. Coonrod's candidacy. 

Douglas Jones

* * * 

I truly respect Councilwoman Coonrod. After all she was the only city councilperson to respond on an issue I wrote to the councilman of the district I live only to receive no response. Although her intentions might be sincere, she appears naive about history, and how Jim Crow and segregation came to be law. There are other means rather than using actual signs to target certain groups or make an area exclusive for a select few.  

Jim Crow, segregation and the signs that would later crop up were a gradual thing. See: "Having Our Say" an oral history of sisters Sarah "Sadie" and Elizabeth "Bessie" Delany (both now deceased) compiled by Amy Hearth. It didn't happen overnight.  

There was a time after the slaves were freed and before Jim Crow and segregation took hold that was pretty much like today. Where people of all colors, racial and ethnic backgrounds openly mingled with one another, even producing children out of interracial relationships, as the Delany sisters were (their mother was African-American/father white).  Then a few rules (today's ordinances) here and there began to take hold, later turning into actual laws. Then one day, as one of the sisters described in their book, they went to a park and the sign was up at a water fountain. "Coloreds/ or Negro" on one side/"White-only" on the other of a water fountain, the sisters as children went to drink from. 

In the community I live, not all that long ago, 21st century to be exact, police were stopping primarily young African-American men (one was practically strip searched right in front of my house) telling them "you don't look like you belong here." Although many of the individuals families, like us, had lived in the community for decades. 

Just because an area, a community, has some "select" diversity doesn't guarantee the intended goals to keep certain undesirables out aren't a part of the plan. It's part of a strategy so matters won't appear intolerant, racist or bigoted when a member or members of a particular group find themselves targeted for removal or to deny entry. 

Personally, I rarely go downtown anymore anyway or patronize any events locally. Certain areas of Chattanooga have been off limits, albeit not openly so, for quite a number of years now, just without the signs telling you where you're not welcome.  It's much easier and actual enjoyable when family invites me out of town to events. The diverse atmosphere is real, not forced or faked. The music lively and everyone free spirited. People of another ethnicity, race, gender (same even) will actually walk up to you, grab your hand and start to dance.  Nothing seems forced or putting on some pretentious show for the cameras to give the impression all's fair, just and right. Then when the cameras go away everyone rush back into their "safe-space." 

These matters should have been openly addressed when many of us attempted to speak out, but were forced into silence, via warnings, threats or other means. At times by some of the very same individuals who've begun to take notice. 

Don't wish to say "We told ya' so." But we did at least make an attempt. 

I was born into a Jim Crow/segregated south too. I have memories, and have long recognized the warning signs. 

Brenda Washington 


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