Supplemental: No leaders, no justice!


Where has the leadership been: We were surprised by a conversation on last evening’s Maddow program.

Maddow interviewed Lizz Brown, a St. Louis talk show host. Before introducing her guest, Maddow indirectly raised a pair of questions we have been puzzling about.

According to Maddow, some local people had suggested that the all-night protests should be all-night no more. Wondering if those people could really be local leaders, Maddow decided to ask Brown:
MADDOW (8/18/14): Tonight in Missouri, police are not imposing the midnight to 5 a.m. curfew that they imposed the last two nights. But there was an effort today by groups who want to be seen as leaders on the ground, whether or not they are—

There was an effort today, at this press conference, to ask people, ask protesters to please not protest after dark, not just tonight but for the next five nights.

Who has the credibility, locally, to make that kind of “ask” in this community right now? Who had that kind of credibility coming into this crisis, and who is earning that kind of credibility by being a leader, by being a trustworthy leader now as we are on Day 9 of this crisis and presumably heading into Day 10?

Joining us now is Lizz Brown. She’s an attorney and columnist for the St. Louis American.
For what it’s worth, Brown seems to have written exactly one column for the St. Louis American, a venerable black weekly. Whatever! It was close enough for cable!

Back to the issues at hand:

For days, we’d been wondering why local black leaders didn’t suggest that the all-night protests stop running all night.

In several ways, the all-night protests seemed maddeningly self-defeating. For days, we’d wondered why local leaders weren’t trying to promote a better approach, an approach more likely to win.

And that wasn’t all! As we noted this morning, we wondered where local leaders have been when we read those anecdotal reports about widespread racial speed traps in the Ferguson area. If those anecdotal claims were accurate, why hadn’t local leaders addressed this appalling state of affairs?

Where has local leadership been? Lizz Brown balled her fists and stated these views:
BROWN: I think that we have to start the conversation with the observation that, prior to what has happened in Ferguson, there’s been a leadership void.

There has been a leadership void politically. We have one African-American elected official in the Ferguson area.

There’s been a political void with respect to organizations reaching out and connecting with young people. There’s been a political void in the sense that citizens have pulled themselves out of the political process.

So there’s a void for leadership in this community. And I think that some of the things that we’re seeing on the ground right now is a reflection of the fact that there is a void.
According to Brown, leadership has been lacking. When Maddow asked if any leadership has been emerging, Brown extended her scathing assessment:
MADDOW: And over the course of these nine days, have you seen anything productive toward building trusted leadership? I mean, rather than people just leaping into the void and declaring themselves in charge or declaring themselves an inspiration? Have you seen anything constructive and ground-up and real in terms of people essentially earning their way into positions of trust?

BROWN: One of the things that I’ve seen—

There’s a person that I have worked with in the past who has stepped quietly in to begin to organize young people. He’s brought together about 60 or 70 young people who came to him with questions of, “What do we do?”

And this person’s expertise is political. He’s a community organizer. And what he has done is, he’s managed to begin to train these young people and as of today—

All 60 of those young people, before this event, they were not registered to vote. But as of today, they are registered to vote. And they’re coming together to try to figure out a plan moving forward. Because they’re being taught that it matters that you, whether or not you engage yourself politically. You have to have control of your political world.

I submit to you, Rachel, that had there been active and engaged political activity within this community, we wouldn’t be where we are right now.
All sixty of those young people weren’t registered to vote? If that’s even close to true, we’re being told a terrible secret about the modern world.

Those are Brown’s assessments, not ours. For ourselves, we have no knowledge of the St. Louis community.

Actually, check that:

On Sunday, we watched the televised meeting at Ferguson’s Greater Grace Church. We couldn’t help noting that local clergy seem to be showing plenty of leadership when it comes to six-course meals.

Perhaps we’re being unfair. That said, Brown’s portrait was scathing.

Above, we’ve showed you Brown’s assessment of the scene in Ferguson. That said, we’ve been struck, for many years, by the lack of leadership from the nation’s leading civil rights organizations.

Sixty years ago, these groups provided some of the most brilliant political and moral leadership in modern world history. What ideas have you heard from them lately? Where has that leadership gone?

Try this:

All across the American spectrum, life is very good today for those who sit at the top. That may affect moral and political leadership in Ferguson churches. It may affect the quality of leadership in our national civil rights orgs.

In our view, it plainly affects intellectual leadership on our “cable news channels.”

In our view, Maddow was providing some very weak “journalistic” leadership last night. We’ll continue exploring that topic this week. We suspect that Brown may have spoken some terrible truths about the rest of our world.

Still coming: The Post on those racial speed traps


  1. "We couldn't help noticing that the local clergy seem to be showing plenty of leadership when it comes to six-course meals."

    You were right the first time: you don't know anything about St. Louis.

    1. But now, thanks to your informed perspective, @4:28... Nothin'

    2. Back at ya Slick.

    3. Wonder what Bob's definition of leader is? Could it be: "If I haven't heard of them in Baltimore, they can't be leaders in St. Louis."

    4. Someone who might have complained about the race-based stop and frisk policy before the shooting? Seems fair to ask why nobody did, given how bad residents said it was.

    5. Seems fair to ask you how you know anything about the existence or nonexistence of complaints in any community anywhere.

    6. You cannot have this all ways. If race relations are not bad in Ferguson, why the protests?

  2. Weak journalism that brought out some terrible truths?


    1. Because that could never happen, right ul?

  3. Ms Brown seems to be a radio talk shot host with no radio station, a columnist with only one column and an attorney with no pracitce.
    But, given the need to feed the 24/7 gaping maw of cable news, she fits a niche....a local from St. Louis to comment.

    Both Rachel and Bob seem to have taken her chit chat at face value for some reason.

  4. Gateway Pundit? Two unnamed St. Louis sources?

    You are truly a tool.

  5. For God's sake, David. You don't know a damned thing about "Gateway Pundit" do you?

    Here's a clue for you: Don't be so damned quick to believe a crackpot blog citing "unnamed sources" just because they tell the story you want to believe.

    And given Jackson's performance so far, do you honestly think that if Wilson had any sort of serious injuries at all, he would have called it more than a "swollen face"?

    Or are your critical thinking skills completely shut down?

  6. 6000 + comments at Gateway Pundit, a conservative St. Louis based blog. An even dozen here in Bobville, almost half about Gateway Pundit.

  7. Without decent education there will not be sufficient qualified African American applicants to the police forces of black neighborhoods in Missouri. Nor will there be talented individuals to provide leadership to address wrongs in such communities. But it is so much fun to mock Somerby when he discusses those test score gaps.

    1. It's far more fun to watch Bobfans jump to conclusions without knowing a damned thing about the Ferguson-Florissant School District.

      Even more fun to watch them forget the repetitive lessons of all those wonderful black kids who have made remarkable test score gains over the years and are closing the gap as we speak.

      Three black cops. Out of a force of 53. Yeah, "qualified African American applicants" are just nowhere to be found.

    2. They can probably choose to work in better places.

    3. Better places than Ferguson? What do you know about Ferguson that makes you say that?

      Oh yeah, it's 67 percent black.

    4. Few black cops work there. You assume many applied but only three were hired. What is magical about those three? I think it is more likely those who qualify apply elsewhere, where working conditions or salaries are better. That is how the job market works. You see everything through a racial lense. Black officers are not hired because they are black or I think they don't want to work in Ferguson because it is 67% black. Black officers cannot have the same motives as white ones, according to you.

    5. Hey, 12:34 AM. The first time Bob covered Ferguson he told us black kids were doing well on their NAEP scores in the "Show Me" state.

    6. Right. 9:52. Ferguson was left with no choice but to hire white cops from Crestwood. They are the only ones who will take the low-paying jobs with bad working conditions.

    7. You don't hire people based on where they live. Is it beyond your imagination that a white person might be less experienced and/or less qualified than a black applicant?

    8. My guess is there is not much but imagination in discourse between some people.

    9. I kinda prefer a police force that is drawn from the community that they are sworn to protect and serve.

      But of course, you now want to change the argument. The point is, Ferguson has no trouble finding white cops from other suburbs.

  8. Sadly, it looks like Bob is going to out-Zimmerman himself here, and I write this as someone who generally enjoys and often learns from this blog.

    Anyway, here's a very good interview with some of Ferguson's religious leaders:

    1. Did WNYC have to offer free food to get these guys to do the interviews?

    2. Speaking of strawberries, did Bob ever find that Cavanaugh clip?

    3. He will, using geometric logic.

    4. Strawberry pie are square. Slices be served in triangles.
      That said, if you stick in rough thumbs you may pull out some plumbs.

  9. Yes, Bob risks losing the Zimmerman Defense Team to a local blog where the conversation is far more lively.

  10. "That said, we’ve been struck, for many years, by the lack of leadership from the nation’s leading civil rights organizations.

    "Sixty years ago, these groups provided some of the most brilliant political and moral leadership in modern world history. What ideas have you heard from them lately? Where has that leadership gone?"

    Yes, Bob. I am sure you have been paying close attention to those "leading civil rights organizations" that you fail to name, and you would have instantly heard new "ideas" that they have proposed.

    Face it, Somerby, you don't know a damn thing about black life in America in general, and life and leadership in Ferguson, Mo., in particular.

    At least have the intellectual honesty to admit there are lots of things you don't know, especially concerning the quality of community leadership in a town you didn't even know existed 10 days ago.

    1. Your uncaring vile comment failed to mention a single thing about those astonishing leaps made by black kids throughout America on the 8th grade NAEP math tests. And did I mention how well white kids do when matched against Polish kids without their averages being brought down by aggregation with minorities, who are doing better in Texas than Gail Collins will ever tell you?

  11. On Sunday, we watched the televised meeting at Ferguson’s Greater Grace Church. We couldn’t help noting that local clergy seem to be showing plenty of leadership when it comes to six-course meals.

    Come on, trolls. You had to laugh.

    1. Having missed the televised meeting at Ferguson's Greater Grace Church, I didn't get the joke.

      But you go ahead and get a good chuckle about Bob's perceived lack of leadership there. Boy oh boy, if only black people had better leaders, none of this would be happening, right? What a knee-slapper.

    2. Well, @ 11:57, that said, I did emit a low, mordant chuckle.
      MLK III is looking pretty well fed compared to his Daddy.

      Truth be told, however, I find Bob funnier when he is trying to be serious. Other trolls may differ.

  12. Quaker in a BasementAugust 20, 2014 at 2:25 PM

    We couldn’t help noting that local clergy seem to be showing plenty of leadership when it comes to six-course meals.

    Perhaps we’re being unfair.

    Golly. Ya think?