"Peace, Justice and Equality: Can America Provide Any of It?"


"Peace, Justice and Equality: Can America Provide Any of It?"


The Nubian Message, North Carolina State University's African American student newspaper, was first published on November 30, 1992. In this January 27, 1993 article, founding editor-in-chief Tony Williamson expressed a pessimism about achieving "racial harmony" in a "country which is governed by a system of racism and oppression." He argued that the "American Dream," which he defined as "happiness through material wealth," was never intended for African Americans and as such, African Americans should define their own models of success based on values of family, education, and community. African Americans, Williamson wrote, should reject the history that mainstream white society teaches, which portrays African Americans as "savages who were civilized through slavery." They should also challenge how mainstream media only celebrates African American athletes and entertainers as successful role models, since such portrayals reinforce materialistic values in younger generations of African Americans. By actively rejecting mainstream values and instead defining their own principles and roles models, Williamson wrote, African Americans could provide a different path for their community's future than the one that mainstream society has laid out for them.

Williamson's article is an early example of The Nubian Message's ongoing call for African Americans, at NCSU and elsewhere, to define their own way irregardless of society's expectations of them. His argument was based on an interesting combination of self-determination theories and self-actualization theories. On the level of nations, self-determination refers to a state's right to define its own form of government and its own political allegiances; on the level of individuals, self-determination refers to a person's ability to control his or her own life. Self-actualization is closely related to this second definition of self-determination. Self-actualization is the process through which a person realizes his or her own true potential and becomes all that he or she can be. Williamson was combining these ideas in his argument about the African American community and its future. In his view, the African American community was distinct from mainstream society, rather like a separate nation, and so should be able to determine its own values and future; at the same time, African American individuals should have control over their own lives and not feel as if they must achieve the materialistic "American Dream" to be a success. On the contrary, African Americans have great potential that they have yet to realize as individuals, but especially as a community; if they self-actualize, however, they can reach this potential.


Tony Williamson, Editor-in-Chief


Tony Williamson, "Peace, Justice and Equality: Can America Provide Any of It?", The Nubian Message (January 27, 1993): 11. Digitized by the Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.




Rose Buchanan




Peace, Justice and Equality: Can America Provide Any of It?

By Tony Williamson

Ever since I can remember, concepts such as equality, justice and peace have been sought after by people who share a common interest in obtaining racial harmony in America. But since this fight for equality has been going on ever since our ancestors came to this country as slaves, I think it is necessary that we ask ourselves whether or not racial harmony can ever be achieved in a country which is governed by a system of racism and oppression.

One of this country's biggest deceptions has been what is called "The American Dream." Generations of people from all over the world have immigrated to the United States with opes of finding better ways of life. These immigrants, hoping to find the door to opportunity wide open, have found that door to be slammed shut, thus ending their chase for the American Dream of happiness through material wealth. Immigrant groups have learned the same lesson that many African-Americans need to realize - that the success models which define the American Dream are not equally available to African-Americans or any other minority group. Once African-Americans realize that we were never a part of the American Dream and resolve to stop chasing it, we can undertake the more sensible and fulfilling task of defining our own success models. In creating our own models, we should look beyond the material objects that characterize the American Dream. Instead, we should look within ourselves for fulfillment and seek to uplift and obtain equality for our entire race, rather than trying to gain success as separate individuals. In other words, in order for African-Americans to survive in this society, the "I got mine" attitude that dominates the minds of so many of our brothers and sisters must give must give [sic] way to a new "We're getting ours" philosophy.

In developing our own models of success, we as African-Americans should be guided by the examples set by our ancestors, who should serve as our heroes. However, finding positive African-American role models is not an easy task, since our heroes are constantly discredited by the media and in history books that are used as textbooks in schools all over the country. Historically, we are portrayed as savages who were civilized through slavery. Our achievements in mathematics, science and the arts are discounted and overlooked, with the credit for achievements in these fields going to Europeans who simply stole information from Africans and called it their own. Think about it. Pyramids were built in Africa centuries ago. Do you think those ingenious structures could have been built without Africans knowing what a right triangle is? Yet and still, the credit for formulating the right triangle goes to some guy named Pythagoras, a European who came along a pretty good while after the pyramids had been built. It's ridiculous.

In addition to the historical brainwashing that takes place in America, the few African-Americans who are given credit for their accomplishments are not given as much publicity as their White counterparts. For example, Thomas Edison is given credit for inventing the light bulb while Dr. Louis Lattimer, who developed the filament for the bulb, is rarely mentioned. Furthermore, few African-Americans who were pioneers in the Civil Rights Movement are recognized as true heroes by the media. People like Marcus Garvey, H. Rap Brown, Huey P. Newton and Malcolm X are often regarded are irrational troublemakers, instead of being recognized as the crusaders for justice that they were. Dr. M.L. King, Jr. and Thurgood Marshall are always presented as positive role models, which is fine, but it's a shame that other great leaders are discounted simply because they articulated more controversial views.

Unfortunately, the media still plays a large role in choosing our leaders. What has happened is that civil rights leaders, educators and parents have been stripped of their role model status by the press. According to the media, young African-Americans should pattern themselves after athletes and entertainers. In essence, society dictates to our youth that they should seek material wealth and follow the examples of those who are affluent. Although there are many athletes and entertainers who are capable of serving as positive role models, idolizing someone solely because of their status in society is especialy [sic] dangerous to African-Americans for two reasons. First of all, people like teachers and parents, who usually aren't rich, are not given the respect they deserve by the children they teach and raise. Kids develop the attitude that someone who isn't driving a new BMW can't teach them any thing [sic]. Moreover, a son stops admiring his 40-year-old father who lacks the wealth of the 20-year-old rapper on TV. Secondly, since the African-American youth has developed the mindset that material wealth should be his only concern, he makes school a secondary concern in order to concentrate on getting rich quick. Consequently, our brothers and sisters are killing one another over gold chains and sneakers; and there are more African-American males in jails than there are in colleges.

Many people, African-Americans included, are surprised once they become aware of the things that occur in America which jeopardize the survival of African-Americans. However, nothing should come as a surprise once we realize that since its inception, America has been a country that has continuously contradicted itself. The so-called "Founding Fathers" of America started this country because they felt oppressed by the British government. The American Revolution allegedly was fought to gain independence for a group of oppressed people. I use the word "allegedly" because after these people gained their independence, they took freedom away from Africans by making them slaves and subjecting them to a level of oppression that the Founding Fathers never experience in England.

The conceptual contradiction that resulted from America's use of slaves is not an isolated event. America has always been a country that prides itself in providing "Justice for All." But where was justice when Rodney King was being beaten by police officers? America contradicts itself by telling kids to "Just Say No" to drugs; but at the same time Elvis Presley, who was a stoned drug abuser, is depicted as a hero and is given a commemorative stamp. The lies continue today in Somalia, where U.S. troops are supposed to be bringing justice to an African country; but in actuality, the soldiers are being used to gain control of Arabian oil wells. Doesn't it seem ironic that at the same time the U.S. is fighting in Somalia, it revives its efforts to overthrow Saddam Hussein? The irony becomes duplicity once one realizes that Somalia is located on Africa's eastern border, directly facing Saudi Arabia. If the U.S. was sincerely interested in bringing justice to any part of Africa, it would send its troops to South Africa. But I guess it would be quite hypocritical of the U.S. to raise its hand against South Africa, since the apartheid system practiced there is merely a copy of America's old system of segregation.

In conclusion, if African-Americans want to live in a just and peaceful society, we have to make it happen ourselves by changing the way the system works. If we wait for society to cure itself of racism and discrimination, we may find ourselves worse off than we ever thought we'd be.

Original Format

newspaper article

Document Viewer


Copy the code below into your web page




Tony Williamson, Editor-in-Chief, “"Peace, Justice and Equality: Can America Provide Any of It?",” The State of History, accessed December 9, 2023, https://soh.omeka.chass.ncsu.edu/items/show/693.