Retired chaplain still proud but issues challenges

Editor’s note: Abilene Mayor Anthony Williams attended a conference in Fort Worth. There, he heard a speech by conservative Republican Rich Stoglin. Williams asked Stoglin to share with the Reporter-News a recently published article.

Today, in the United States of America, we have come to an intersection in our nation’s

history, where the words: innovative, pride and integrity are confronted with conflict,

confusion and despair remains a divided social highway.

Yet, it is an unquestionable fact, this country has been endowed with tremendous opportunity to accomplish great things, other countries only dream of.

However, with the continuous social divide at the intersections of those individuals

pursuing the road marked total anarchy or a heavily manipulated mob ruled crowd

called Black Lives Matter, is this great nation once again, confronted with the

question “Where Do We Go From Here, Chaos or Community?”

Inside the Black community

As an African American who is writing this article, I am loudly proclaiming, that I am

extremely proud to be an American. Without question, as a person who was born in

1957 in Taylor, Texas, in a segregated hospital known as Dr. (James Lee) Dickey’s


Dr. Dickey was at the time the only Black physician in town.

After my parents divorced, my mother of six children moved with five of us to Waco. Part of my background was living in the projects (public housing) for approximately 4.5 years. Staying in the projects even then was no glorious picnic. Yet, with the lessons instilled by my mother and strong Black father figures of the community at that time, it made me determined with unyielding determination, to move up, no matter what.

Today, the sad part of what’s missing in the African American community is a consistent and, in all too many cases, no positive male role models to emulate. That makes the demons of so many of today’s African American communities rife with violence, self hatred, teenage pregnancy and crack houses, thereby recycling a bad batch of those bent on focusing on poor choices.

It sadly is a systemic place where the thieving acts of dreams are taken and souls are crushed. These communities need help with aggressive infusion of constructive, committed, competent, accountable and forward-thinking leaders. They have had too many horrible examples of charlatans pretending to be their allies while at the same time endured bad schools, lack of economic development, no opportunity zones, poor access to better healthcare facilities and sketchy public transportation options while a

bunch of empty promises and paid loud noisemakers abound.

On the other hand, with a strong sense of determination, inspired by my so-called

disadvantages, I started working when I was 8. I went on to graduate from

five different tremendous institutions of higher education in five states, including

graduating from the U.S. Naval War College, and obtaining a doctorate. To be certain, life for me with this darkened complexion, of which I am proud, did I face in several

instances racism, discrimination and serious doubters regarding my knowledge, skills

and abilities.

Yet, there were others who both looked like me and not looked like me, and

those who didn’t believe in me so much that failure for this “Black life” was not an

option. Success was.

By living in 11 states, moving 33 times as an adult, while riding on the front highway

and traveling the back roads of Texas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, California, Mississippi,

Tennessee  and Ohio, I can attest to times of racism is not in one location. It lurks in numerous places.

Taking on racism

Indeed, racism not only lurks in lower class communities; it also exist among the

wealthy and very educated. Does any of this sound familiar?

Yet, from this writer’s point of view, is to state loud and clear to those who are stuck in one racial gear, while shouting in the streets “America is terrible and there is no hope for this country” — enough!

At this point, let me say something from the other side of the street of America’s voices.

It has been deeply interesting to witness all those people who have expressed by

screaming their views on the injustices done to and on African Americans to those

who have legitimately demonstrated their empathetic apologies and commitments to

help communities, forcefully taking down statues, defacing with little or no

knowledge of monuments, including those heroic members of the 54th Massachusetts

Regiment, I say stop!

Stop talking at us or thinking you know better than others do, especially African Americans. You don’t! The 54th Massachusetts Regiment was comprised of members of the United States Colored Troops within the Union Army and were some of its bravest soldiers.

It was during the Civil War that African Americans received 16 Medals of Honor. Today, it remains the largest number of African Americans receiving this nation’s highest military medal. And yet, there were those willing to deface and if given further permission, would have been delighted in tearing down this sacred monument. Why?

It is also out of curiosity, how many minority contractors are being contracted hired to

legally remove those designed “offensive monuments?” Especially since certain

elected officials after 30-plus years are suddenly offended by them, have you insisted

minority African American companies be contracted for monument removal? If not,

why not?

If you want to know what African Americans really think, then stop burning down

businesses in the Black community; that which seems to be, for whatever reason, a

favorite target zone. Why? Your indifference to destroy several critically needed

businesses which won’t be able to rebuild nor rehire employees in such communities that took decades for them to willingly exist there.

Some of those critically needed businesses include pharmacies, grocery stores, banks, community clinics (with competent and caring health care providers), law enforcement sub stations.

Blacks in leadership roles

For those individuals who are so concerned with these acts of injustice, then let’s start

with an assessment of:

► How many African Americans serve of bank boards (not advisory volunteer committees)

► Economic opportunity zones with access in partnering with African American Chambers of Commerce that have credible track records and are consistently looking for economic partners to move inner city and poor areas forward? Those thereby create opportunities to break long over due cycles of poverty and disparity sagas.

One way to break the cycle of poverty with lasting and sustainable results is enhance partnerships with Historical Underutilized Business, Minority Business Enterprises and increase scholarships for African Americans above and beyond athletic ones.

Another way is to create access in help changing the economic landscape is for major media networks, news media organizations and sports teams to hire African Americans in executive positions such as: CEOs, CFOs, CITs, general managers and general legal counselors with board privileges. 

It would be a tremendous victory to celebrate for America to actually see and know that the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribunes, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and all other major news organizations that constantly fill the air waves across America would embrace hiring African Americans throughout their top executives suites with full authority to help influence their mission. Not to mention the much needed opportunity to serve on these said boards.

This challenge to truly live up to opportunity also goes to political offices. How many of the current elected official have African American chiefs of staff? To date, rumor has it, only one U.S. senator does. How many African American chiefs of staff are in today’s U.S. House of Representatives? If not, why not?

Others want to be Americans

As a retired member of the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of

Prisons, U.S. Navy, and a disabled Veteran, I have seen the best

and worst of America.

Yet, through crowded experiences, my view of this country is one of overwhelming pride! This included my last assignment as command chaplain of 39 nations in Afghanistan, for 330 days boots on the ground. Because of my position there, this chaplain had a full time security team and three Afghan interpreters. It is also interesting to note that throughout my travels around the world, I found many of those countries I visited wanted more than anything to come and live in America.

Why? Because in spite of our shortcomings as a nation at times, the individuals I encountered were deeply interested in coming to the United States. It was and remains, the land of opportunity for many.

In recent months, there have been large sets of targeted acts of aggressive and

destructive groups bent on destroying monuments in several sections of this country. The repeated themes of excuses for these unprecedented acts of vandalism has been

they are doing it on behalf of Black people. Again, I say stop!

As Americans, this is our right, our heritage and shared history. It is great to be an American.

Equally important, is this issue of Black Lives Matter, occurring in many sections of

the country, especially those which are democratically controlled cities. I am curious

about the relentless advocacy of defunding the police. What would they

replace the current police departments with?

Will Black Lives Matter advocates be able to stop Black on Black acts of crime, prevent increasing number of Black on Black homicides, gangsta street takeovers currently plaguing several of our cities, reduce Black teenage pregnancies, violent community assaults, the horrendous high school dropout rates, especially among African American males? What say you?

I am also curious about the lack of protesters when innocent Black children are killed in

their homes while hiding from stray bullets exchanged by gang members? While

playing, or riding in their parents cars? Where are the protesters for these continuous

acts of violence? Do these Black lives not count?

Indeed, there are problems in the United States. But, there are options for plenty of opportunities for all who those citizens called Americans to pursue in 2020 and beyond.

A word on Frederick Douglass 

Yes, Frederick Douglass made the 1852 speech in Rochester, New York, titled “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” He also worked to help end slavery in the United States.

Two of Douglass’ sons were recruited by him and fought with the 54th Massachusetts Regiment.

He also wrote about economic development, started a newspaper called The North Star, served as a major recruiter for the Union Army, was a confident to presidents and played a major role in passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. He helped mightily to get Ulysses S. Grant elected president

Mr. Douglass served as a U.S. Marshal, consul general to Haiti, became a board member at Howard University in Washington, D.C. and was an adamant advocate for women’s rights. Douglass, while born into slavery, he rose to become a

proud intelligent advocate for justice and led his country through some of its darkest

history to better days during reconstruction.

His last public speech was Jan. 9, 1894, and titled “The Lessons of the Hour,” delivered at the Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, D.C.

Throughout his adventurous life, Mr. Douglass, no matter what, believed in the

greatness of America. No wonder he so eloquently penned: “You will not be judged by

the heights you have risen, but from the depths you have climbed?”

Thus, I agree with the Civil Rights activist Bob Woodson, who recently said, “Nothing is more lethal than to convey to people that they have an exemption from personal responsibility.” 

I leave you with the following quotes and challenges from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.:

“Our movement (of hope, economic, political, educational, and spiritual righteousness) will not be judged by the noise of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

“A straightened back can’t be ridden.”

“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”

I’m calling on the courageous and forward-thinking leaders, not cowards, who hide in

the shadows. I am saying to those anarchists disguised as allies, Black Lives Matter—

false prophets – enough!

Let’s work together to make this country constructively better for tomorrow. Because tomorrow is today. The future boldly awaits us.

Anyone care to join me?

Rich Stoglin is a retired as a Navy chaplain, U.S. Department of Justice official and president of the Frederick Douglass Republicans of Tarrant County.

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