From The Grio — “Show me your papers!” Major Blackard, then just 19 years old, dug into his trousers in search of his wallet. He padded his jacket, but could not find his billfold.
“Sir, I done left my wallet…” Blackard said. Before he could finish his sentence, the young man was posted against the brick wall, cuffed and taken to the St. Louis city jail. Unable to prove his identity, he would spend the next 21 days in a cramped, musty cell. That’s where his older brother Matt found him, beaten and bloodied. Matt returned with Major’s employer later that day, wallet and identification card in hand, to post bond.
The year was 1899. Major Blackard was my great, great grandfather.
WATCH THEGRIO’S GOLDIE TAYLOR WEIGH IN ON THE BIRTHER STORY
The real crime, as Pulitzer Prize winning author Doug Blackmon points on in his seminal work Slavery by Any Other Name, was that my grandfather was a colored man in America.
This morning, as White House staffers released copies of the president’s long form birth certificate, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something very ugly was going on. For the first time in recorded history, a sitting president of the United States found it necessary to produce his original birth certificate for public inspection. Not once, in 235 years, have we ever demanded proof that our president was born on American soil.
In a stunning display of unchecked ego, Donald Trump quickly hosted a news conference, during which he took credit for forcing President Obama’s hand. The sometime real estate developer, socialite, author and television personality went on to caution onlookers to let “experts” examine the document. Lest the president continue perpetrating was Trump has called potentially the “biggest fraud in American history.”
For weeks, the thrice married, comb-over construction magnate has enthralled news reporters with his apocalyptic ranting. Trump openly questioned whether President Obama belonged in the White House, a boardroom, or even an Ivy League lecture hall.
And we let him.
We used all manner of excuses to justify giving Trump as much oxygen as he could suck up. Rarely, if ever, did we press him to produce a shard of evidence to substantiate his wild claims. We smiled gingerly as he all but called us stupid sycophants who were in cahoots with an illegitimate president. We allowed him to hold court on issues on which he clearly has no knowledge and no credibility, beyond the limo ride briefings he apparently receives from his merry band of “yes men.”