Your column, “History, Racism and Constructive Context” (Press & Dakotan, June 25), is a very timely reflection on the “current uproar over the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) in schools”. It set me to thinking of my own experience growing up in Yankton.

Ted Blakey, a successful African-American businessman and Civil Rights advocate in Yankton told South Dakota Magazine: “We hear about the Holocaust, and survivors of Pearl Harbor. I want them to know what black people did in South Dakota and in Yankton. A black person couldn’t get a haircut in Yankton until after 5 o’clock. The barber pulled down the shade and cut your hair. There was not a barbershop in Yankton that would cut a black man’s hair in 1963. … Ninety percent of bars and barbershops and 30% of restaurants and motels in Rapid City refused service to blacks.” (February 2019).

Charles Rambow, expert on the Ku Klux Klan in South Dakota writes: “ Most people are caught flat-footed the first time they find out that South Dakota has a history with the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan was statewide.” The KKK hated not only Chinese but African Americans and Jews and especially Roman Catholics — a substantial number of them of Irish descent.

My great uncle, Richard F. Lyons, mayor of Vermillion, 1916-1918, witnessed the annual KKK march. Although men wore hooded masks, he recognized many from their boots and called out their names: “Good morning, Mr. Hansen,” etc.

Abraham Lincoln was a prototypical believer of “Critical Race Theory” in mid-19th century America: “I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can anyone who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.’” (Aug. 24, 1855).

When President Biden recently signed the “COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act,” he said: “Every time we are silent, every time we let hate flourish, we make a lie of who we are as a nation.”

I commend the Press and Dakotan for this “blunt self-reflection.”

(7) comments

E pluribus

Doesn't everyone - Trumpsters and liberals alike - agree that:

1)- Our young people can’t afford to go to college or are leaving school deeply in debt.

2)- Our physical infrastructure is collapsing.

3)- Everyone except anti-science folks knows that climate change is real.

4)- We have the most expensive and least effective health care system in the developed world.

5)- We pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.

6)- We have a housing crisis.

7)- Half of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.

We’re arguing over Critical Race Theory which most of us don’t really understand when there are serious issues we all DO understand that should unite us in common purpose.

Mr. T

White Grievance (now manifesting itself over CRT) is a powerful - if false - message that may herald another generation or more of Jim Crow control of our electoral process.

Say what you will about CRT, it is historic fact that white folks have controlled the electoral process for the entire existence of the USA.

Nonetheless, the American experiment has not collapsed.

Oh yes, we did fight a bloody war to end slavery, but the right to vote was not really extended to non whites.

Still the US endures in the endless struggle for Lincoln’s “more perfect union.”

Black folks know all about this. The only difference this time is that many white folks are experiencing this injustice for the first time.

And white folks may have to reconcile themselves to the reality that - in the words of Martin Luther King - "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Yet - like Black Americans - they may have to accept that this bending will take longer than their time on this earth.

Abe

We should start a GoFundMe to provide more rural areas with copy machines.

TruthFairy605

Thanks, Abe. We can always count on you for a silly irrelevant comment.

Abe

Please give me an example of a person -- just one person, anywhere in America -- who really wants to vote and yet would be prevented from doing so by any of the Voter ID laws currently being enacted or proposed. I just need one person. Can you give me one?

Mr. T

“PREVENTING“ people from voting is so old fashioned, Abe. That was your Grandfather’s “Jim Crow.”

Modern Jim Crow is simply making it HARDER for your opponents to vote.

Gerrymandering, limiting polling places and doing away with absentee voting are just a few of today’s kinder, gentler forms of voter suppression.

Dear Leader

I can answer each of E Pluribus’s seven points!

1)- Our young people can’t afford to go to college or are leaving school deeply in debt. 🟥 The Election Was stolen. And Critical Race Theory will enslave all White People‼️

2)- Our physical infrastructure is collapsing. 🟥 The Election Was stolen. And Critical Race Theory will enslave all White People‼️

3)- Everyone except anti-science folks knows that climate change is real. 🟥 The Election Was stolen. And Critical Race Theory will enslave all White People‼️

4)- We have the most expensive and least effective health care system in the developed world. 🟥 The Election Was stolen. And Critical Race Theory will enslave all White People‼️

5)- We pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. 🟥 The Election Was stolen. And Critical Race Theory will enslave all White People‼️

6)- We have a housing crisis. 🟥 The Election Was stolen. And Critical Race Theory will enslave all White People‼️

7)- Half of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.

🟥 The Election Was stolen. And Critical Race Theory will enslave all White People‼️

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.