THE BOTTOM LINE | Where are the liberal Koch brothers?

To be an effective organizer in the American African community you must be a racial historian. You cannot learn that history effectively unless you become a master of American history. The two are too intertwined to pull them apart and learn one without the other. It’s a tapestry that also includes Native American and Latino American history, if you truly want the entire picture.

When I look back on this history, see where we are now and try to project the kind of America we are building for the future, I am far from satisfied. What bothers me the most is that I don’t hear liberal white America articulating a clear vision of where this nation should be racially.

It is the committed 10 to 15 percent of the population that determines the destinies of nations. I see that committed group on the right with the Tea Party and the Koch brothers, but America has never developed a national liberal organization with a clear vision of racial harmony.

Liberal white America is defined more for what it fights against than what it is really fighting for, which means it spends more time reacting to the right wing than articulating a clear agenda of its own.

The main reason that this is important is because racial change in America will not be a result of whites and blacks sitting down to talk. It will be the result of the dialogue between whites who really want racial harmony and those who don’t — once that is decided, they can meet with us.


Who will take the lead?

The symbols of hate and fear are well known: Hang a noose or leave a cross and your point is made. We don’t have images for the racially balanced America we claim we want, so how can we achieve something that we don’t have a clear picture of.

Less than 10 percent of the meetings I have attended in the last 10 years have been about what we really want in the American African community. They have mainly been about what other people are doing to us or should be doing for us, and most of those meetings were necessary.

But as we wind down the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act and four years before we recognize the 400-year anniversary of Africans in America, it’s time to deal with these issues with real money.

This is the most divisive issue in America, and it’s like an open sore that the entire world can smell, and yet, there is not one serious, fully funded and fully staffed think tank that is dealing with this on a daily basis, and that exposes the hypocrisy of liberal white America.

It needs to get done, especially here in the only county named for Martin Luther King Jr. in the nation and a county with the Gates Foundation, a few hundred Microsoft millionaires, Amazon, Starbucks and Boeing. This is private and foundation money I am talking about here to solve the main issue this nation has and do it from a county named after a man that articulated what the best of America should look like.

The right wing puts its money behind its convictions, and it funds PACs and think tanks to create havoc in every corner of this nation. The left groan and moan about what the right is doing but don’t do anything to match it, and we are gradually losing the battle.

We have the place, we have the intellect, we have the technology and we have the money to put together a serious think tank in Martin Luther King Jr. County. But where are the liberal Koch brothers?

When you see me looking like or acting like the typical angry black man, it’s because it’s difficult to be around so many resources, so much talent that do nothing.

We are in a battle of whose vision of America will be part of the future tapestry, and this is a battle that needs committed people and resources to win. We need one liberal with resources who really wants to fight back to help us start a think tank and help build a clear, racially inclusive America — talk is cheap.

CHARLIE JAMES has been an African-American-community activist for more than 35 years. He is co-founder of the Martin Luther King Jr. County Institute ( To comment on this column, write to