book of african american men

The Story of Paul Phillips

Excerpt from the book: The Other Side of Silence: Men’s Lives & Gay Identities - A Twentieth-Century History by John Loughery

Paul Phillips was a young black gay man growing up in the Midwest during the early 20th century. He was the son of a fairly prosperous middle class lawyer within a family exemplifying the aspirations of the talented tenth. Somehow, rumors of Paul’s extracurricular activities revolving around his “sexual behavior and preference” reached his father. Quite calmly and plainly, his father explained to Paul that he was living his life within an “unnatural” condition since he did not evince a desire for the opposite sex within their small segregated community. To help his son overcome this “condition,” a trip was planned to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

For a total of seven day, Paul was interviewed and examined. At the end, the doctors reported to Mr. Phillips and his wife that nothing could be done to change Paul; he would be a “homosexual” to the end of his days. And, that under Minnesota law at the time, they were required to report suspected gay men to the Rochester police, gay being a criminal offense. For whatever reason, the doctors, to the great relief of Mr. and Mrs. Phillips, declined to report Paul to the law enforcement authorities.

After returning home from an exacerbating trip that required them to camp out because they were not allowed to stay in white only hotels, Mr. Phillips came to a rather judicious conclusion about the sexual nature of his son. If his son suffered from an “illness” for which there was no cure, he would allow his son to lead his life as before, but lead it with DIGNITY and caution. Mr. Phillips said to Paul:

Find yourself a friend you can trust and bring him …What you do in your own room is your own business.

Mr. Phillips feared for Paul’s welfare. He understood the dangers of clandestine meeting spots where those like his son found one another and sometimes the law waiting for them.

It took Paul sometime to find a congenial lover, but at college in Topeka, Kansas after becoming a lawyer in the mid 1920′s, he met another black man, a musician who played the organ for churches near school and together they began a relationship of mutual affection providing a respite against an often hostile and prejudiced world.

THE IMPERIAL WIZARD OF THE KU KLUX KLAN WRITES A LETTER TO THE COMMISSIONER OF THE NYPD IN 1959

The Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, in 1959, sought to collaborate with the NYPD against Black Muslims in America, as well as combat the spread of Islam amongst the general Black population, since such a combination he viewed as a threat to White Supremacy. An excerpt of that letter to the Police Commissioner of New York on August 6, 1959, reads as follows:

“If you were a student of Race, you would know that Christianity is the White man’s religion and has only been successful in White countries; whereas, the Muslim’s religion of Islam is a nigger religion which appeals to the nigger’s black racial instincts. That is why the Muslims grow stronger every day even though every nigger will go to hell when he dies. If we fail to stop the Muslims now, the 16,000,000 (sixteen million) niggers of America will all soon be Muslims and you will never be able to stop them”

Source: Freedom Of Information Act. Declassified FBI files.

Strong Men Keep Coming: The Book of African American Men

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 by Tonya Bolden

AN EPIC, EVOCATIVE HISTORY-FROM JAMESTOWN TO THE MILLION MAN MARCH “In her own special, provocative language, Tonya Bolden gives a voice to the voiceless, a name to the nameless. Revelations abound in Strong Men Keep Coming, her singular take on the endless parade of black men who have fought, sung, cajoled, tricked, worked, wrote, or roped their way into the American experience… . She has assembled a most rewarding cast, a phenomenal coterie of role models and phantoms, and she has done a splendid job of telling their stories.”-Herb Boyd, coeditor Brotherman: The Odyssey of Black Men in America “Strong Men Keep Coming is long overdue [and] told in glorious detail. Bolden does an excellent job of obtaining information that’s hard to come by.”-Mosaic “Tonya Bolden has assembled an eccentric, eclectic, and highly readable collection of portraits of black male achievers. Bolden blends heartfelt tributes with humorous anecdotes.”-Washington Post Book World Spanning four centuries, Strong Men Keep Coming captures the dynamic essence of the black male experience in America, shedding new light on towering icons like Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Malcolm X, while illuminating the lives of numerous forgotten strivers and pioneers. By turns triumphant and tragic, this vital collection brings to life the strength, courage, and tenacity of a truly remarkable brotherhood of men. [book link

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