T.R.M. Howard on Civil Rights and Economic Independence


Over at National Review, John J. Miller interviews historian David Beito about Beito's extraordinary new book Black Maverick: T.R.M. Howard's Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Power (co-authored with Linda Royster Beito). Howard was a wealthy Mississippi doctor, fraternal society leader, entrepreneur, and civil rights activist who championed mutual aid, private property, and armed self-defense and played an indispensable role in the pre-Martin Luther King civil rights struggle. Here's a snippet from the interview:

MILLER: How were Howard's views on civil rights and economics different from those embraced by today's self-proclaimed civil-rights leaders?

BEITO: Howard's eyes never strayed from the need to build a strong economic foundation through thrift and business ownership. He was a rare example of a leading civil-rights leader who was first and foremost a successful entrepreneur. During the 1940s and 1950s, he also led one of the leading mutual-aid organizations in Mississippi, which provided low-cost and high-quality hospitalization for blacks. Howard's RCNL [Regional Council of Negro Leadership] combined support for voting rights with an emphasis on the need for ordinary blacks to save and invest.

Howard always believed that it was essential for blacks to go into business for themselves. He pushed these goals while he served as chair of the board of directors of the National Negro Business League. His business enterprises included an insurance company, a home-construction firm, and a plantation of more than one thousand acres. He also built the first swimming pool (Olympic-sized) for blacks in Mississippi and even opened a small zoo. As the founder and head of one the largest black hospitals in Mississippi, he often gave his patients not only medical care but seed and tips on the latest business and agricultural techniques.

Read the rest here. Read my review of Black Maverick here.