By Bro. Dwayne X
The National Spokesperson of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan spoke to over 150 people at the Wisconsin African American Women’s Center on November 7th to appeal to the audience to “selective buying” and bring back Christ Jesus into the celebration of Christmas instead of the commercialization of Santa Claus, that is promoted by rich white merchants.
Student Minister Dr. Ava Muhammad of the Nation of Islam is touring the United States to continue a movement, that was reintroduced by Minister Farrakhan in his address during the 20th anniversary of Million Man March (MMM) in Washington, D.C.
The “Justice or Else…” tour started this spring and gathered on the National Mall on October 10th which brought attention to the senseless killings of Blacks at the hands of police (i.e., Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Dontre Hamilton, Michael Brown, etc).
The address was viewed by 1.5 billion people around the world via webcast and seen in 400 cities and 90 countries. It was estimated that 1.5 million people were on the mall on a beautiful and sunny day in the nation’s capitol.
Dr. Muhammad, a lawyer, quoted Adam Clayton Powell who said: “Christmas and Santa Claus is the white man’s product and has nothing to do with Jesus.”
“Back in 1963, Christmas was the activity of a child, but we’re being slaughtered out here. We don’t have jobs.
Public schools have closed and libraries,” Dr. Muhammad said.
She recalled how the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s used the economic withdrawal as a “sacrificial Christmas” after the bombing of four little Black girls in Birmingham, Alabama during Sunday school in church.
Dr. King wanted to “redistribute the pain” and force white businesses to close.
James Baldwin and Louis Lomax and other Black writers coined the expression “sacrificial Christmas” while working with Dr. King to mobilize and organize a mass movement of “selective buying.”
Dr. Ava Muhammad said the boycott in 1968 led to the direct result of the assassination of Dr. King.
Dr. King gave instructions on April 3rd in Memphis calling for economic withdrawal from white owned businesses, that never treated Blacks with respect and dignity.
The next day on April 4th he was shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.
Dr. Muhammad informed the listening audience about the first Black Christmas boycott organized by Medgar Evers in 1964 in Jackson, Mississippi.
The boycott was 100 percent successful.
No Blacks used decorations or lights around their homes.
Mayor Allen C. Thompson of Jackson offered Blacks $675.00 as a prize, if Blacks were to shop in the white shopping district. Mr. Thompson said Blacks would be given police protection, if they shopped on Capitol Street.
The mayor begged Blacks to come out and shop.
Blacks refused the money and the prize which would have gone to the family with the most decorated and lit up home.
Jet magazine in 1964 reported from the widow (Myrlie) of Medgar Evers that “it was truly” a Black Christmas.
Mrs. Myrlie Evers- Williams said the boycott brought a “renewed spirit” to the community.
Dr. Muhammad pointed out that business was so slow in Jackson that the Christmas parade was cancelled.
As a result of Black Christmas, Blacks had a new sense of determination.
The “selective buying” campaign continued until the residents received human dignity.
Medgar Evers was assassinated after the boycott by Byron De La Beckwith of the White Citizens’ Council (and later of the Ku Klux Klan) in his own driveway after two years of mobilizing against white retailers beginning in 1962.
The spending power of Blacks in 1963 was $23.5 billion dollars, which at the time was the sales potential of Canada.
Dr. Muhammad stressed that whites don’t patronize Black businesses.
Small Black businesses in America makeup 0.6 percent or $72,000 dollars in America while the average small white business in the United States total $1 million dollars annually.
“The United States retail industry generates over $3 trillion dollars during the holidays in 2015 [projection] which equates to about 19 percent of the retail industry during the year,” Dr. Muhammad explained.
In closing, in November Exclusive Interview: ‘Chiraq’ Breakout Star Anya Engel- Adams Talks About Spike Lee’s Newest, Controversial Film of 1967, the Milwaukee NAACP Youth Council decided to call a “Black Christmas.” It was successful.
Even though all of the neighborhoods weren’t aware of the boycott, many sections were.
Black Milwaukeeans were fed up with unfair open housing and mistreatment by whites.
The boycott focused solely on downtown Milwaukee and their refusal to offer employment, respect and human dignity.