TheGrio Daily

The Five Race Wars, Pt. 1

Episode 20

“America is filled with race wars.” It’s Wednesday, so you know Michael Harriot has another Wypipo Wednesday for you. We hear it over and over again, White people complaining about not having their own month. Well, Michael heard those White tears and decided to inaugurate the month of August as “White History Month.”

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Michael Harriot [00:00:05] Hello and welcome to theGrio Daily, the only podcast that’s legally allowed to trust a big butt and a smile and of course, it’s Wypipo Wednesday. Yeah! So that’s the day when we dedicate our show to listeners who can’t tell the difference between someone dancing at a rock concert and someone catching a Holy Ghost. And if you’d notice, August is the only month without a holiday. Until now, at theGrio, we believe that all months matter. So to make up for all this lack of celebration, we decided to make August White History Month. That’s why for the rest of this month, we’re going to be celebrating the rich history of White people. Plus, with all this new anti-CRT laws, how else are you going learn White history? Today, we’re going to be talking about one of the most taboo subjects in America, the great race wars. 

Michael Harriot [00:01:00] I’m Michael Harriot, a world-famous wypipologist. And this is theGrio Daily. No, we’re not going to be talking about the Civil War today or when they tried to jump start on January 6th. We’re going to be talking about all of the other race wars in American history. Oh, wait. Y’all do know that American history is filled with race was, right? You know what? Maybe I’m exaggerating by calling it a war. Perhaps, but calling the prolonged periods of racial terrorism. Maybe I’m being too much right. You know who we should ask? A dictionary. Matter of fact, let’s holler at girl Merriam Webster. 

Merriam Webster [00:01:41] Hey, y’all. It’s your girl. Merriam Webster. And I’m back with another de-finition. Now today’s word is war. Now, we all have heard this word before, and I’m sure that we all think we know what it means. But let me break it down for you, Merriam Webster’s style. War is a state of hostility, conflict or antagonism. It is also a struggle of competition between opposing forces for a particular. Now tuck that one under your fitteds and your bonnets, because baby, the more you know, the more you grow. I’m your girl, Merriam Webster, and I’m out. 

Michael Harriot [00:02:30] So you think those White supremacists saying they want to start a race war? We dreamed it up, bruh. When have you ever known White people to do something original? Nah bruh. There’s been race wars since America began. And let’s go through some. So let’s start with number five, the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission. It was a state sponsored program by Governor James P Coleman that lasted from 1956 through 1977. And the legislature voted on the 12 members of the commission, and that included a former FBI agent and a mississippi Highway state patrolman. And the goal was to preserve segregation laws and to portray Jim Crow in a positive light. But a real goal was to kill Black people. And I’m serious about that. I’m not making it up. Now, the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission secretly funded what was known as the White Citizens Council from 1960 to 1964. They took $200,000 of Black people’s money officially and funded White citizens councils throughout the state. And the state was 42% Black. So a lot of that 42% of it was Black people’s money. And what do I do with that money? Well, one of the people they fund, it was this member of a White citizens council called Byron De La Beckwith, who murdered NAACP chairman and civil rights activist Medgar Evers. And when civil rights workers James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman went to Freedom Summer to help Black people vote, they were murdered, too. And they were murdered because the state agency, the Sovereignty Commission, gave the license plate numbers of Black civil rights workers to the sheriff in Philadelphia, Mississippi. And that’s how they murdered them. They stopped them on the side of the road, killed them, and then buried them in the Shobha County on a farm. That’s right, the commissioner met with Neshoba County law enforcement and told the law enforcement officers not to look for the bodies because they were probably still, quote, alive. And all of this nonsense was just a propaganda ploy. Yeah, that was a thing that happened. And when they disbanded, they found that the committee had a list of 87,000 names that they wanted to target. That’s 4% of Mississippi’s population. And for comparison, Hitler’s race war targeted about 1% of Germany’s population. Yes, it was a conflict between the state and the citizens. It was a period of hostility. Yeah, it was a race war. 

Michael Harriot [00:05:24] Okay. Number two is the Kirk-Holden War now. We don’t even have to explain how this one fits into the definition because like it’s actually known as the Kirk-Holden War. So on February 26, 1870, over 100 members of the Ku Klux Klan drag Wyatt Outlaw, a Black town commissioner out of his bed and hung him in front of the Alamance North Carolina courthouse. And on his neck was a sign explaining why he did it. It said, “Beware you guilty, both Black and White.” See, the goal was to enforce the subordination of former slaves and to punish White people and Black people who threaten the racial hierarchy. That’s an actual quote. And three months later, the Black state senator, John Stephens, was taken to the courthouse basement where a group of White supremacists put a rope around his neck, slit his throat, stabbed him and left him on a pile of wood in the bottom of the courthouse. So, like, the governor was like, we got to do something. And the governor, William Holden, he called up this union officer named George W Kirk, and he said, like, for real, like, I hope he was a captain because like, wouldn’t it be great that his it was captain quote Holden told Kirk, like, look, these White folks down here going crazy. Can you do something about it? Go down there and give him some straighten. And this straighten was a war between the Klan and the actual United States government. And in the end, the United States government lost. Kirk arrested 100 White North Carolina men for their lynching campaign, including a district judge, a sheriff, a congressman, and an original organizer of the KKK. But the president of the United States called and had them released. North Carolina Supreme Court eventually ruled that Holden, the governor, had no right to suspend habeas corpus, which is like the right to protect people from being detained, which like I wish they would’ve had that during slavery, oh they did have that during slavery. Oh, we just couldn’t get it. I think the people in the control room telling me like habeas corpus did exist during slavery. But anyway, they said Holden didn’t have the right to suspend habeas corpus. So he was impeached. And then this is my favorite one of my favorite quotes. They said he was, quote, obliged to leave the state forever. He was arrested, but he escaped. The Kirk-Holden war was an actual war. But it wouldn’t be North Carolina’s last successful attempt to overthrow the government. And we’ll get to that one. But after the Civil War. We’re going to talk about Louisiana. 

Michael Harriot [00:08:04] See after the Civil War. Confederate states initiated a campaign of racial terrorism against Black people that was so violent that Congress like was like, yo, look, if y’all want to be part of the United States again, you’ll have to rewrite your constitutions. So when all of these Southern states started rewriting their constitution, Louisiana decided to enshrine Black codes that discriminated against Black people. Right. So on June 30th, 1866, right. When they rewrote the Constitution, the Black people objected. Right. And the Black people marched to the constitutional convention to assert their right to be included in the Constitution. And of course, you know how we do, man. They bands, they would dancing, like we gonna vote. We gonna vote. I don’t know if that’s the actual tune they used, but I’m sure they said “we gonna vote these White folks out. We going to vote these White folks out.” Until the White folks saw them coming. One of the most important phrases, the most disgusting phrases that I’ve ever read comes from the book “Grant” by historian Ron Chernow. And this is what he said happened. The Whites stopped, kicked and clubbed the Black marchers mercilessly. Policemen smashed the institute’s windows and fired into it indiscriminately until the floor grew slick with blood. They emptied their revolvers on the convention delegates who desperately sought to escape. Some leaped from the windows and were shot dead when they landed. Those lying wounded on the ground were stabbed repeatedly. The skulls bashed in with brickbats. The sadism was so wanton that men who kneeled and prayed for mercy were killed instantly while dead bodies were stabbed and mutilated. 

Michael Harriot [00:10:09] Now, because of the New Orleans massacre, which is what they called it, ex-Confederate lost their right to vote. And politicians associated with this incident, they were banned from holding office, but they successfully delayed the constitutional convention. And then when Louisiana reconvened the Constitutional Convention, the White man, successfully enshrined White supremacy into Louisiana’s law for another 100 years. And that wasn’t a war. That was just one battle between September 29th and November 3rd, 1868. The White Knights of the Camellia killed hundreds of Black people and Saint Landry Parish during the Opelousas massacre. In March 1873. The Crescent City White League gathered an army of 8000 men, mostly Confederate soldiers and declared war against 3500 police officers and state militia members in New Orleans. On April 13th, 1873, White supremacists in Red River Parish, afraid that they were outnumbered by Black voters, gathered an army and murdered a lot of Black people like. Nobody knows how many. A congressional report on the Colfax massacre, which is what it was call named 81 Black men by name. But witnesses report dozens of corpses floating through the Red River. Some were secretly buried and others they just burned them. 

Michael Harriot [00:11:42] In August 1874, Thomas Floyd, a veteran and state senator, was murdered by the White League in Cushatter. Within hours, thousands of members of the White League convened in New Orleans and just started killing Black people. And that’s called the Battle of Liberty Place. Right. And there were a number of other incidents like this. In 1874, Crest City White League had 5000 men killing people. The Battle of Liberty Place has a whole monument, which is what started this whole backlash against Confederate monuments. And it goes on and on and on. Until. Louisiana was kicked back out of the union. And re-designed their constitution. But they made it more racist. And they wrote it in blood. And if you don’t categorize all of this as a war, then you really don’t know a lot about definitions or White history. And that’s why we’re going to have to pause here, because, I mean, this is a lot. So next Wypipo Wednesday, we’re going to finish the list with the top three race wars in American history. We’re going to discuss them and we’re going to teach you more about Caucasian Race Theory. But until then. Remember to download the app and subscribe to the podcast. Tell one of your friends about it. You might not want to tell them about that, you know, floor growing slick with blood thing, because I hate that. But as always, we’re going to close with another Black saying and this time we’re going to say “War. Uh. What is it good for?” I’m according to White people, it’s absolutely something. 

Michael Harriot [00:13:48] Thank you for listening to theGrio Daily. If you like what you heard, please give us a five star review. Download theGrio app, subscribe to the show and share it with everyone you know. Please email all questions, suggestions and compliments to podcasts at theGrio dot com. 

[00:14:08] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, Black Culture Amplified. You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, Black Culture Amplified. 

Maiysha Kai [00:14:20] Don’t forget, you can listen to theGrio’s Writing Black Podcast hosted by me, Maiysha Kai. This isn’t your typical writing podcast. We interview any and everybody that has anything to do with writing from comics to poets to authors to journalists, to politicians and more. Remember, that’s Writing Black every Sunday, right here on theGrio’s Black Podcast Network. Download theGrio’s app to listen to Writing Black wherever you are.