When I first heard Bob Marley singing “Life is one big road with lots of signs…” I was young and only of the impression that he was being poetic.  It never occurred to me he was giving a lesson.  When I was growing up most entertainers were eight to ten years older then me unlike today it appears most musical entertainers are chronological peers of their audience.  But, Bob Marley was teaching.

Life is one big road with lots of signs.  I wonder though, as to how many of us can read them or understand the signs set before us.  We live in an age that requires that we evolve, else we will stagnate and perish.   During the Civil Rights era we were faced with a visible and common enemy.  Out right and blatant racism.  Old customs hung over from the Jim Crow era folding into a coming age.  The age of television sounded the death knell of the time of Jim Crow.  Television offered scenes of brutality to the world, showing America eating her own.  These were the images spread around the world.  Jim Crow had to go.  America could not afford to be the leader of the free world with images of black bodies being destroyed spreading across the globe.

The world was changing.  A shift had taken place and our vaunted black leaders of the time Malcolm Shabazz and Dr. Martin Luther King, also shifted and rotated with the cycle.  By 1964 brotha Malcolm had come to see it was not racism that was the actual enemy of black people in the States and black people world wide, but something bigger appeared to be the problem.  As he had sat with men of every color in peace and harmony during the time he had made the hajj and becoming El Hajj Malik El Shabazz. It seems he came to know that it was the lack of unity rather than racism that was a real culprit.

The lack of a unified force, an international black unified force, that was our problem.  If Afro Americans could organize and link with black people of other American nations, then an international force would be a force to recon with and could be mounted against the U.S. government starting in the U.N.  Black people in the States could use that force to enter into the political system and run our neighborhoods and communities ourselves using the political system already in place.  Thus he founded the Organization of African American Unity the OAAU, modeled after the Organization of African Unity.  However,  it was the hubris of the white man in the States that held racial hatred rather than the white world at large as he had come to realize.  Mr. Shabazz rightly held that he would defend himself against white hatred, but he understood what the ailment truly was that held us back.

By 1967 brother Rev.  Dr. King had come to see that something else greater than racism was at play in our collective .  Rev. Dr King also had the opportunity to travel the world, spending much of his time on the island of Jamaica to contemplate and to write.  During these times of sitting still and analyzing the war in Viet Nam, Dr. King began to see there was a something deeper was at play  and not simply racism…

To be continued…


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