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Bill Moyers Asks: What is the Meaning of the Nooses?

In this week's JOURNAL, Bill Moyers put the following question to Dr. James Cone:

BILL MOYERS: How do you explain the current spate of the appearances of the noose again? Up comes this story right here from the suburbs of New York -- a noose found in the basement locker room of the village police department. The deputy chief of police is black. And then you've got Jena and you've got what happened at Columbia [University], near your office.

Do you think these people understand what that's the symbol of? Of what actually happened to human beings when that noose was placed around the neck? Or is this just some kind of grim game?

We invite you to discuss your answers to Bill Moyers' question below.

Photo: Robin Holland


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re: jena revisionism
well, it seems that wilson is from "lala land" and thinks that louisiana is on mars.
i read the editorial that is referenced here and i was surprised to see the historical insanity of the region flagrantly exhibited in this piece of unconcealed apologism.
there are several clues that point to both its revisionism and lies but i think its never wise to point out, to one's enemies, their errors and give a way the game. there is one that is so amusing that i wondered if perhaps the entire piece was satire......

The most offensive words spoken by Mr. Cone came near the end of his interview, when he made the claim that the only way for America and the world to find "salvation" is through "the cross." Before that he claims that all humans are inherently "sinners."

Let me say this: most rational people do not abide by these superstitions. Just because your "god" invented the concept of sin, do not assume these concepts exist as reality. Your god invented sin: so you wallow in it. Not me. Do not paint all people with that particular brush.

As for Mr. Cone finding meaning in the word of his god, I didn't hear him refer to the many passages where god not only condones slavery but also gives advice on how to treat ones slaves.

Also, Mr. Cone suggests the reason Black people survived slavery was through their faith. This is untrue. If Black Americans were practicing the faith they brought with them from Africa, then I would agree with him. But they simply embraced the white mans god. They abandoned their own.

And the church. How strong the church has been for African Americans through the horrors of slavery, Mr Cone informs us. Yes, where was the church? Where were the church leaders? I'll tell you where they were, Mr. Cone. They were in Washington, begging President Lincoln not to abolish slavery. Claiming it was their right and using scripture to back them up. It was all there, in black and white, so to speak.

In closing, I would like to say I find it humorous that a seemingly intelligent man would fail to see that it is and always has been religion that sets man against man. That in the 21st century the very last thing the world needs is to turn to some "cross."

More vile than the noose? The christian cross. After all, that was the symbol white america used to justify slavery.

As I watched this show I kept thinking I was having a hard time 'getting' it. Then you had that little bit from Sweet Honey and the Rock and suddenly I think I 'got' it. It all made sense. This is the most beautiful and amazing thing I've seen on TV in a long time.

I'm not a Christian (although I grew up as one) and I'm just a white lady, but I think I get it. It's when all the forces of evil take away everything you have that you realize that the one thing they can never take is your humanity and your place in the universe. The birds don't worry about how they'll be provided for. But people do, and they express their worry in many ways, including fearing, hating and killing other people.

Nooses are just an expression of fear. Fear that white people won't keep being the "winners". But in "winning" they lose because they are not able to truly understand their humanity and the love that God has for them. The noose attempts to kill the object of white fear but it can never kill the humanity of the person whose neck it encircles, and it can never salve the fear of losing. At the same time the noose kills one person's body it poisons another's soul. We're all encircled by that noose in some wa.

It's only when we can let go of the fear that we can know peace. The noose kills us deep inside even as it barely nicks at the true humanity of those it targets. If only we could see that we could all heal. Maybe if we really understood the lynching tree we'd understand what Jesus was trying to tell us.

I hope I explained that right.

The noose as a symbol of slavery has been replaced by the neck tie.
Working in a "cubical" is no different than being put in a cage and selling yourself to the highest bidder.
How long will humanity be human as the noose is drawn around our freedoms and liberties. The cost of living is going up and the wages are going no where.
Freedom and liberty come at a cost in a capitalist system. It is the slow death of humanity as the powerful turn up the heat. We are all in the same pot and people of all heritages will suffer the same fate. We sell our independence for a pot of meaningless garbage.

A fascinating show!! And I was truly amazed with Dr. Cone's ideas and conversation with you. I have referred friends to your site to watch the show online.
Many thanks for all that you do.

Dear Bill Moyers,

Thank you for introducing me to the mind of James H. Cone by way of one of the finest programs ever on television (KEET, Eureka CA).
The questions were as good as the answers.
I’m glad the American people forced you out of retirement.

I’ve got the transcript of the show on the screen next to this writing.

I’ve also read some of the comments, enough to see how differently people relate and react.

There was an engaging stream of powerful ideas presented through out the evening but the aspect of the conversation that causes me to write; when the discourse turned to “What can people do to try to help bring about this beloved community?” I found myself
almost involuntarily mulling over possibilities.

First is to believe that it can happen.
I’m ready. I’ve been ready.
Don’t lose hope.
What’s next?
“ The next step is to connect with people who have hope;….You have to connect and be around and organize with people who have hope.”

My mind for some odd reason flashed to a web site that I once visited with photos of people from all around the world, sending their condolences to the American people after the second “election” of George Bush. (We are so sorry. We understand. We are trying to understand.)
It was amazingly comforting.

“You organize to make the world the way it ought to be… And THAT is the beloved community. You have to have some witness to that. Even if it’s a small witness of just you and me.”

I’m picturing a web site full of messages and pictures of people who have hope. Who can make the connection between the cross and the noose; who know that this is fundamental to understanding all forms of oppression and who know that forgiveness is the natural outcome of deep understanding and a desire to go forward.

Ah, another web site with lovely pictures!
What an amazingly lame way to save the world!

I propose that the use of such a site be what I have done. And that is to turn on a friend to view this interview. I would love to tell my friend, if so moved, they could go to a web site ( make a posting and/or photo that expresses:
I believe that it can happen…
I know we are connected regardless of any duality in our nature….
I have hope.
The idea being that the friend would do the same. The hope is to spread the word about this most important conversation and its direct relevance for America’s awakening.
A site, with a short preamble, might start to generate its own momentum; an additional fifteen minutes of fame in the collective psyche.

Another web site that comes to mind was one showing the enormous demonstrations happening almost simultaneously around the world BEFORE the bombing of Baghdad.
Again I was comforted and informed as I never would have been if I only read / viewed mainstream news.

We need to witness each other’s hope. Even if it’s just you and me.

So there… I’ve unburdened. I’m breaking all kinds of internal rules by proposing something that I have no skill to create.
At best, please accept this homage to your fine programming and a declaration of my commitment to tell others.

“ You see, when you can express and articulate what’s happening to you, you have a measure of transcendence over it. It gives you speech. It gives you self-definition”

Whatever it takes to keep the ball rolling.

Highest regards.

R W Evans

There is a lot of good discussion here. The bottom line to me is whether the discussion and reconciliation happen here in America? Is there any historical precedent to where this has happened? I'm no historian, so in the animosity and conflicts of the past, with Jews, Palestinians, Sunnis, Arabs, aborigines, Incas, versus whoever, is there a template to build on?

Thanks for reading.


Why has no public discourse taken place about the nooses recently found at the California State University, Fullerton?

Bill Moyers is honest enough to admit he or his Journal is not perfect. I'm sure Dr. Cone makes mistakes and is fully human too. Listening to the viewpoint of a caring person with whom you disagree
is the first prerequisite of democracy. "Oh, I'm gonna cancel your podcast! I'm gonna go kiss the screen when Hannity comes on!" Such is only babyish drivel.If you support a closed minded lawmaker who opposes diverse opinions on PBS to counter corporate TV you are undermining your own freedoms. Sometimes I think we could put the burlesque hook right up there with the noose and the cross. "If you dissent we'll cut you off," is a fascist threat. Ask Phil Donohue or Tommy Smothers.

I first explain that I am a 63 year old "white guy". I was born into a family of folks where I was used to hearing, as a child (in the mid '40s, in Maryland at the time), that "all the Jews and niggers are taking all the jobs". Does that have a familiar sound, same song, 'nother verse today?

At any rate, I would like to suggest the following (having somehow come to some imperfect and yet profound and unsettling understanding of the suffering of blacks, our native Americans, and hordes of others) for those who may have any difficulty at all "getting it" regarding the experience of an oppressed minority.

One can get some idea of the meaning of burning crosses and lynchings and the like if one thinks of "us" ... the white majority at any given time ... as terrorists ... with a devilish twist. We had/have the upper hand, and yet we continue to want to put more fear into those whom we already dominate, either lest we lose our dominance, or because it's just "good (usually youthful) fun", or both.

If one wants to know a bit of how it feels to be “on the other side of the fence” in such a situation, the reaction of our whole country, culture, and collective mind to the acts of terrorism perpetrated on us ... a tiny minority of us ... by another tiny, virtually invisible "minority", on "9/11" and other occasions, should make plain for us the kind of singular and collective mental suffering wrought by mindless, random, sudden, unexpected acts of violence against one's race, country, religion, etc. You automatically want to fight back (and we did, in another hasty, ill conceived act of violence).

However, when the terrorists are also the ones already in control of one's whole being, one knows exactly who "the enemy" is, and yet he/she also knows that one dare NOT "fight back", because the result will be just increased terrorism. Cook this brew over a high flame for tens of decades and what you get is the last (you name the number) years of backlash on backlash on backlash.

If you want to start to stop the hate, you first have to start the understanding, and then the love. You have to become extremely intolerant of any expression of "the old rule", no matter how minor it may seem. You have to let the pendulum swing the other way for a while, like it or not. You HAVE to "integrate" (we still, de facto, haven’t).

Sadly, we must also wait. Though the flames may die down, the pot stays hot for a long, long time. We can all help us come to be a comfortable, happy soup by being vigilant for holdouts on both (actually all) sides, and tolerate no such indications on either (any) side.

As for comparing the black prison population (%) to "lynching", if you don't see that as part of "it all", consider other things ... such as comparing the reactions by our Federal government to cat 5 hurricanes that wiped out more racially white portions of southern Florida (Andrew), and the (lack of) reaction years LATER to Katrina, in predominantly black New Orleans. Some of you remember sitting, jaw agape, on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Katrina having hit Sunday night, watching the carnage and tens of thousands begging for help on wall-to-wall TV coverage, while our Federal government claimed it had not got the news about the severity of the damage and flooding until Thursday of that week (guess they were all watching the cartoon network).

I also reflect on the reaction by “everyone” to fires that burn over white AND rich (and insured) areas of California.

You did a great job, Barney ... and friends. Mission accomplished. They got the message. Let’s hope they remember it next November.

It seems a bit scary when someone (Brad Leon, for example) thinks that "Journal" is intended to be a "news" program, especially after having, apparently, watched or read it for a while.

Moyers' choice of format and guests would seem to make plain which definition of "journal" he intends: "A personal record of occurrences, experiences, and reflections kept on a regular basis; a diary." With the emphasis on "personal" and "reflections".

When one interviews one person for an hour, it would seem that one can and would expect a "one sided" view on any given subject, assuming a degree of sanity in the interviewee.

I'd suggest "The News Hour" for those seeking "news". Note the title.

Excellent, Excellent discussion. One that quite frankly has been going on for years among black people. That for America to truly be great and live up to it's ideas it has to face it's sordid past and realize that actions done in the past still reverberate with us today.

Bill Moyers' fearsome intro reflected the popular reluctance among "white" Americans to discuss race in public events (such as Christian worship). However, it is important to note that there's organized work under way in many quarters to change this. Secular education and community organizing is going on in many communities, and across the generations. Most major Christian denominations now have training or dialogue programs to build awareness of the legacy and continuing prevalence of "white" supremacist assumptions in our culture, which are reflected subtly or overtly in many cultural and institutional practices.

Dr. Cone's discussion, like his teaching and writing, provide rich inspiration for organizing to dismantle this corrupt system. Ultimately, we'll need to face the lie that's manifest in the "white" self-identity, which authorizes our association with positive metaphors contrasting sharply with most of those associated with blackness.

But restorative justice needs to be an immediate focus. As Dr. Cone suggested, the prisons (our modern "lynching trees") and the correctional system that feeds them would be a good starting point, and also especially the underfunded educational systems, especially at primary and pre-school levels.

An insightful look at the scourge of racism in American history and life. I enjoyed the intellectual rigor of Dr. Cone's discussion with Mr. Moyers, and I am glad to see that such a serious program of discussion is made available to Americans and that many people feel compelled to respond and contribute. I agree with Dr. Cone that "white and black" America is of one family divided by violence and blood, that lynching serves as a powerful reminder of this history, and that America is far from innocent. There is even further agreement, I am sure, between myself and others that racism is merely the cretinous non-sense of humanity's more barbaric and immoral side. But lest we get too complacent in the false security of consensus, I found that while Dr. Cone provided much in the way of description and analysis, he provided little if anything in terms of a solution. The irrational and empty-headed discussion of metaphors, religion, "forgiveness" and the subtle casting of guilt upon "white" people (many of whose ancestors never saw a "black" person let alone lynched one), is leading us only further into legitimizing the utterly absurd notion that "race" is and ought to be a legitimate category of solidarity in American life. Is America really of one family when guilt is thrown both ways and upon groups who only exist in our imagination? Read the results of the human genome project, and you will understand what I mean.

I will surely teach my children of the slaves of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, of the lynchings, of the extermination of Native Americans, and of all the other barbaric acts performed throughout American history. I will tell them such brutish behavior was as bad then as it is now. What I will not tell them, however, is that they are of a certain group that either must self-flagellate itself for the crimes of humanity's past or demand from others atonement (a preposterous and self-rejcting notion). I will not even teach them to have "compassion" (a gentle substitute for paternalistic pity) for the world's dispossessed. Rather, I will teach my children the principles of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine--whose work Dr. Cone erroneously calls "white" culture--and from whose promise Dr. Martin Luther King beautifully evoked in front of the Lincoln Memorial. From these men, they will learn that they and others are endowed with certain inalienable rights and are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They will learn to demand justice and dignity rather than pity for all people. In the end, if we can teach posterity to keep their eyes on this UNIVERSAL prize, then perhaps the crimes, pain and hatred that tears at America's promise might slowly begin to wither.

Another insightful book that connects the many institutional faces of racism in America is Elaine Brown's "The Condemnation of Little B." In this book, she reveals how our country has turned to blaming the victims of poverty and has perpetuated disgraceful lies about black people.

Dr. Cone stated, "the ghetto...becomes a way, a metaphor for lynching, if lynching is understood and as one group forcing a kind of inhumanity upon another group." He is as right as rain. In order to control a people, they are concentrate together, so as to keep an eye on their activity. The saddest reality about the ghetto is when groups try to assist their leaving; they are ostracized, harassed, and even murdered because they are trying to do what is right in the sight of God.

From our government to corporate America, to our churches and schools, African Americans have been psychologically brain “screwed” into thinking that failure [financially, medically, socially, and morally] is their only option in the United States. Our children and adults are forced to join gangs, [criminal, sorority, and fraternal] in order to manipulate their brains and control their behavior. It is as if, non-African Americans are manipulating African Americans to control each other.

Our entertainment industry has told the world that the African American woman has no morals and is only interested in defaming and dehumanizing herself, her family and the African American male. The African American male is portrayed as an ignorant drug induced idiot only interested copulation, sports, and crime. Our entertainment industry does absolutely nothing to glamorize intelligence, decent moral behavior, or promoting dignity. They promote sex, violence, illiteracy, immoral behavior and all the makings to glamorize the criminal element, because the criminal element can be controlled. Did I say it is about control?

A decent and moral people would reverse the ills of the ghetto but they do not because they do not want to live without all “that” money and are also psychologically screwed into thinking that the oppressor is better than the people they oppress.

A wise woman once said in order to be a true intellectual, one must de-colonize the mind. Try it and I guarantee that your mind will love it but the control freaks will not.

"For news of the heart, ask the face."

During the talk Professor Cone made reference to Niebuhr's term "terrible beauty" regarding the cross and the noose. Niebuhr did not coin the phrase but its source actually captures the point I believe Prof. Cone was trying to make. WB Yeats coined the term in a poem commemorating Irish resistance to oppression - Easter 1916. In the poem, referring to the sacrifice of the leaders of the insurrection of Easter 1916 in Ireland, he says "a terrible beauty is born". The source seems to make Prof. Cone's point about the unity of the cross and the noose - the resistance to oppression arising in the sign of the oppression itself - confronting power with its own excess from which emerges a consciousness of humanity and suffering, shared suffering, that can be killed but cannot be conquered. This is the terrible beauty. As an Irish woman when I see the noose, I see the oppression my people suffered too and in the triumphs of the civil rights movement, I found hope as many did before the peace so that when Bobby Sands died on hunger strike, the banner said: Bobby Sands Free at Last. To Prof. Cone and to Mr. Moyers I say: Amen


This will be my final comment. If there were a round table discussion perhaps I could get my points across more fully and could respond to some of your thoughts and accusations. The odd thing is there is MUCH of what others have said in response to what I said with which I agree. Much has been said eloquently. Some has not. Of course, I try to look at both ends and in the middle of all issues as nothing is all one way or the other. Of course I know people overcome huge odds and work diligently every day. Having said that one cannot deny some of what one sees. One doesn't necessarily have to see everything first hand but certain media reports are credible and SOME observations are true.

As for US policy I also do not see it all one way or the other. Human beings are not angels. This is a dangerous world and homo sapiens has an aggressive gene in us somewhere. The US is not to blame for all the world's problems BUT it does, no doubt about it, contribute to some. I consider myself left of center -- slightly left. The problem I have had with the left of this era is that sometimes they are utterly as blind as the right to the shades of gray.

The US has catapulted itself historically to be a nation of great wealth, power and influence. Which country in the world would eschew that power, wealth and influence if they had it? I am a realist. Would I like to change US policy both foreign and domestic ... a resounding yes. It needs change. In print it is not always possible to discuss all aspects of what one says. Suffice it to say I agree with parts of many who have written but I disagree with other parts. There is not room here nor do I have the time to constantly respond but at the risk of being labeled things I am not, I feel compelled to respond one last time.

To summarize: I believe great wrongs have been committed in our culture. I believe people have, in great part, overcome those wrongs. I applaud that. I do still think others languish in a horrific climate of fear, poverty, ill health, crime and other maladies. Perhaps as Shakespeare said "The fault dear Brutus is not in the stars but in ourselves." If one looks to our culture to do something about our plight one may have an awfully long wait. By the way, Bill Moyers is not simply a forum for the left. It is a forum for all. Bill Moyers has had figures on his program like conservative Richard Viguere and many many others with a right wing slant and with whom I whole heartedly disagree. I can think of no better forum than here to discuss a plethora of thoughts, feelings and ideas. This site does not say for left wingers only.

Dr. Cone's conflation of lynching tree with the cross was ingenious. As a former Christian, I am glad to see Dr. King's legacy of healing the U.S. disease of compulsory denial of its racist roots continued. And yes, I agree this country’s original sin did actually begin with the genocide of the indigenous population here. But that is someone else's story to tell. One question for those of us who reap the benefits of the civil rights era is how can we learn from others' stories in order to continue our liberation. What symbols of oppression and liberation are valid for those of other cultures and can we help each other out by entering into that creative dialogue Dr. Cone spoke of? Understanding that compassion and identification with the terrorized, the imprisoned, the abused, and the invaded has to be a priority for us in the U.S., Christian or not.

To Ms. Rosen and her comments on "taking responsibility for one's own life" and all those evil black ghettos out there with all those violent immoral criminals: I challenge you to actually go to one of those ghettos and document all the immoral things you find. You may also find a huge number of people who have had inadequate education, poor diets, minimal healthcare, and few job opportunities. You will also find tremendous courage, brilliance, outrage over the same moral issues you claim to care about and people who work furiously to protect their families and move them out of a dead end path. Many make it out of the ghetto and have all kinds of responsible jobs and roles that they don’t shrink away from. Many stay and make a difference for the ones who can't get out. Personal responsibility is not the private domain of rich people, the middle class, whites or Jews, so get off your high horse.

Let’s discuss responsibility even more: what evil immoral acts did our government commit against poor people in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina? When this government refuses poor children access to health care is this not criminal? When do we take responsibility for our country's illegal invasion of another country, and its torture and murder of innocent people (remember Moazzam Begg and Maher Arer, among others)? When this government talks of Crusades and World War III and thinks it’s okay for the Israeli government to murder Palestinians, because they aren’t Jews but living on so-called “Jewish land”, or for us to murder thousands of Iraqis and Afghans because they may be linked to Al-Queda (but where’s the evidence beyond their word?), what moral signpost is being followed? Who in Congress takes personal responsibility for allowing the President to make the Constitution an outdated, useless document with all his illegal signing statements?

Who takes responsibility for the over consumptive lifestyles we lead in this country? Impoverished people in other countries see their wealth stolen by greedy private investors and multinational corporations who destroy their economies and pay no taxes on their amazing profits. Our burning of fossil fuels forces inevitable and accelerating climate change - who forces us to take responsibility? While activists and farmers and students in other countries die fighting for their freedom by weapons supplied to their governments by the U.S.(can we say Indonesia, Israel, Columbia, Pakistan, India etc?) Yet the U.S. government - and by extension the U.S. taxpayer - remain innocent. I suppose we could try and blame the media...?

For those of you who couldn’t hear what Dr. Cone was saying because of his gesturing or his strident tones, try reading the transcript. If you got this far in the blog, I’m sure you can find that web page.

I was very moved by the Bill Moyers interview with James Cone.

Never stated, and possibly not even implied, in the discussion was how this victimization of those who were lynched also applies in our nation's dealings with the rest of the world.

Is it perhaps the case that the "war on terror" is a declaration by those in power in the US and the world that we will send our gangs (or gangs we support, as in Pakistan) anywhere and everywhere to lynch those who need lynching (again, having not read Cone, I don't know how much he gets into the motivation of those that do the lynching, and whether the motivation of those who tie the nooses might be different from the motivation of those who inspire them to do the lynching).

To me, Bush's statements about "bringing them to justice" -- where he almost always means death or permanent imprisonment, but almost never means public trial and due process -- have always had a "lynching" flavor to them.

I know, I know -- it is almost treason, a political blasphemy, to describe what our troops are doing in the world as a kind of lynch mob. Is there a nicer way of saying it, that still says it? This is why I wonder how the motivation of those who participated in the lynch mobs, and those who led or inspired them, might differ. I suspect that at least occasionally the participants were morally upright citizens who thought that what they were doing was in some way protecting decent people and society from some grave harm. I'm sure that many of the participants in Jesus' crucifixion were likewise morally upright people who thought they were upholding the law and protecting good people.

Does the "lynching" of the family killed in reprisal for an insurgent attack represent both tragedy and triumph -- for whom?


But please Ms Rosen assume the logical continuity of what you say!

In your original email you cited your Jewishness as one of the premises for your opinions. Your point was that the current so called 'sins' of the African American community negated any discussion of their Holocaust(s).

(Which of course could NEVER be interpreted as being on the same magnitude as your own Holocaust…)
Please assume RESPONSIBILITY(your own 'key word') for what you meant.

So therefore I only took your statement and drew the obvious conclusions. You said that your Jewish background helps you to empathize with the plight of African Americans.

Yet, you then ask them(or it's more like "tell them")to accept collective responsibility for the sins of some in their community (that you have certainly observed on your local "Eyewitness news" television channel)and then you in turn refuse to accept responsibility for the great collective sins of your own community. And then rather than accept responsibility for the the collective crimes of your own 'tribe', you dare to use brazen clichés based on the fraudulent "a land without people for a people without land" lies.
And what's more, 90% of what you mentioned in your initial email had nothing to do with the subject matter of the Bill Moyers interview with Dr Cone, whereas comparisons with the Holocaust were mentionned in the Dr Cone interview…

(maybe that was when you became disgusted with Dr Cone's characteristically Black speaking patterns{"cacaphonous rants" as you put it -} and at that time you changed the channel, as you said in your original e-mail).

"Dr. Cone's loud diatribe lost me and at one point I turned the channel.… "

…you brought basic ad hominem white complaints(do i have to say racist again?) about the African American community into the discussion that had nothing to do with the discussion on the program other than the fact that the interviewee was African American..
With all the certitude of an Ayn Rand-er you like to say:

"I am saying at some point people must take responsibility for their own actions"

That is EXACTLY what Dr Cone is saying.

Lynching and slavery is a basic fact of this country's history and it's relationship with America's innocence and it's self perception as a "shining light on a hill" is something that HASN'T been dealt with AT ALL in our culture.

Of course THAT was the subject of Dr Cone's discourse.

When spending time in Germany over the years, I have been impressed with how a large portion of the country has reflected upon the meaning of their historical guilt - something that very few Americans are ready to do.

These are the issues that accompany Dr Cone's message.

You don't like how Dr Cone speaks? Is that because even though he is an intellectual he refuses to abandon the basic speech patterns of his community and talk like a White business executive?
The idea of America is stillborn if people who are ostensibly open to the ideas of Bill Moyers programs hold ideas like yours.

I would have been less depressed if I had found this discussion on a Limbaugh/O Reilly message but to find it here on the Bill Moyers blog is quitye discouraging.

If nooses are considered to be hate symbols, then gang graffiti must also be considered to be hate symbols. Gang members mark their territory by tagging neighborhoods with their graffiti to intimidate people in the neighborhood to be afraid of gang members. Those who claim that graffiti is "art" have no idea what it means to live in a decaying neighborhood where people are afraid to go outside or let their kids play outside. Gang graffiti has the exact same effect as nooses, they send a message to the people that if they talk to the police about gang activity, the gang members will take revenge. Gang graffiti not only targets the people in the poorer neighborhoods, Blacks and immigrant Latinos, but scares white people from going into gang infested neighborhoods. Good decent hard working people living in lower income neighborhoods are intimidated to live in perpetual fear from gangs. Gang graffiti causes more damage to Blacks and poor people than nooses.

Ms. Rosen.
speaking only for myself, i need no assertions in speech and so, "mea culpa"s are quite useless. however, there remains the indisputable fact:
most people today refuse to behave as though atrocity was committed(and continues). this is equally true of "Black People" who are hard pressed to recognise the futility of "debating" this issue, as well.
Mens' inhumanity to their fellows is an unfortunate given, but highlighting issues of criminality is actually beside the point.
so, here is the point:
any predisposition to any assumed value for the individual is an error in judgment. we used to call it "prejudice" and i was educated quite young as to its potential disaster.
today's social quandry in re racism is less about the style of it than the effects of this prejudice on the ability of any single person to be adequately judged on individual merit. find any abstract you like of class/race distinction and see if any such characteristic of the group may adequately describe even any single individual of this group.
even fratboys differ one to the other.
this entire discussion rests on the solipsism of race validity, which any four year old can decide is specious, provided the facts. i empathise with your travail on this board but it helps to have allies(and conversely, to be one) who know which fights to pick and why.
donald vance

How many times would you like a person to say lynching black people and racism against them are wrong? Of course they are wrong! I will say mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Now I've said that over and over and over again. I recently wrote an editorial decrying the racism regarding the unjust imprisonment of the Jena 6. Of course nooses mean something. The ones who perpetrated that rancid act knew EXACTLY what they meant. One would have to be a moron not to realize the impact a symbol like has on a person. It's the equivalent of a swastika. There is no question absolutely no question that racism existed, still exists, has been and is a cancer on our body politic. The question is after admitting the obvious over and over again, flagellating oneself and after discussing the fact of racism for decades then what? The logical extension of the discussion after the admission that the US is racist is racism's impact on the black community today. I am saying at some point people must take responsibility for their own actions and no amount of guilt or money or empathy about the problem will rectify people's lives until they do something themselves to rectify their own plight.

What are you all talking about? I watched the interview. I watched it twice. (TiVo) Once again, everybody is talking about everything but the elephant in the room. Dr Cone said that he wanted to start a discussion about Lynching and the Cross. You all are regurgitating all of the same talking points that people have been bringing up my whole life to avoid getting to the real issue.

I'm 50 and African-American. I was born in the south where lynching was a reality. And I've heard all this kind of talking before.
Everybody knows a black man was lynched last night; everybody knows who did it. But no one will dare say this is wrong and this must stop. Nobody gets charged with a crime or arrested. Then everybody starts blaming the victim of the lynching for bringing this on himself. He should have known better. Black people have the “wrong” attitude, they need to be more like (insert another non-white ethnic group here). They have low morals or low intelligence, etc, etc, etc. How it's a shame but he had it coming. He shouldn't have done this or that. As if the victim of the lynching is to blame for making those poor white men do this horrific thing.
Black men (and women) were in danger of being lynched in America for any reason; real or imagined. Whites brought their children to watch the spectacle. What do you think this taught White children about their place in the world? What do you think it taught Blacks about Whites?

Most Whites won't even acknowledge that anything wrong happened. Their ancestors may have done this but they don’t see any connection to themselves. That’s why I don’t expect an apology. That's why we will never resolve racial tensions in America.

I certainly did evoke controversy and if one really READS my former statement it is, I think, fair. I acknowledge history but I also acknowlege the individual's responsibility to help himself.

Some agreed and others vociferously did not. I stand by what I said and think too Dr. Cone's discussion with Bill Moyers had NOTHING to do with the realities of the Holocaust and the existence of the State of Israel today. Israel is a fact and the Jewish people, as they always have, fight for their right to live. Even with nearly a century of annihilative threats, the Jewish people literally made flowers grow in the desert. They made a heretofore barely cultivated land thrive. That does not mean I am impervious to bad behavior when I see it. I am not. No state gets it all right all the time. The Jewish people knew, however, that the only ones they could trust with their survival and advancement were themselves.

Of course Mr Drake, you wouldn't see it. First of all, there was no rationale put forward by Dr Cone to justify the current state of the African-American comumunity - that was imagined by Ms Rosen. His message was about America in general and the symbol of the noose in particular and our tendency to sweep that essential fact of our collective being under the proverbial carpet. And therefore the fact that we can't really become a real nation until we have dealt with it.
If there had been a show about the meaning of the Holocaust and then I blogged afterward with a statement that approximated Ms Rosen's statement, it would read something like this:

"All these people that talk about Jewish suffering during the Holocaust are so strident. That's old history: the story today is that Israel persecutes Palestianians and they drop depleted uranium bombs on Lebanon . So therefore, because of Israel's current day actions, the Holocaust is nullified as a moral issue."

Please note that I am NOT saying this myself - and I don't believe that and neither does Norman Finkelstein (and if you're not aware of the struggles of this son of Holocaust survivors then you're ill equipped to enter into this debate). I am only creating the mirror image of Ms Rosen's statement in order to make her and other thoughtful Americans see the hidden racism in her statement.
Because we are not yet in a culture where race does not play a factor in our opinions (as this blog makes so patently obvious) it is important that i present myself. I am white, 25% Jewish on my father's side yet my occupation is in African American culture. My ex wife is African American and I have also lived a year in post civil war Lebanon. I am also active in an anti war group whose leaders are for the most part of Jewish origin.
And i am 100% in agreement with Dr Cone and Dr Mike Jones about the fact that IF we did had more successfully dealt with the tradition of racial conflict in our own country, we would better equipped to equitably deal with the problems in the Middle East
A book that I recommend to all who are honest about their pursuits to purge America of it's ghosts and move on and "live up to the full meaning of it's creed"(as one oft cited American once said) is David K Shipler's(alas a Jew !) "A Country of Strangers- Blacks and Whites in America"

Peace (yet also Vigilance…)

In response to Isome, Mr. Williams did not pretend to be a sociologist. Rather, he reported crime statistics published by the US Department of Justice.

RTD used an opinion column from Walter Williams as a rebuttal to the claim that most crime is intra-racial. Walter Williams is an economist. He is not a sociologist who uses statistical equations to back up and or doublecheck his conclusions, nor even someone who is more interested in the facts than satisfying those from whom he seeks validation. He's a rightwing pundit.

However, if sources of information with an unmistakeable agenda are the rule here, then google Tim Wise and any number of his writings will soundly refute anything Walter Williams has to say. Here's an excerpt from

"As sociologist Robert O'Brian has noted (using Census data), the odds of a given white person (or white criminal for that matter) encountering a black person are only about three percent. On the other hand, the odds of a given black person (or black criminal) encountering a white person are nineteen times greater, or fifty-seven percent (6), meaning the actual interracial victimization gap between black-on-white and white-on-black crime is smaller than one would expect. In 2002, blacks committed a little more than 1.2 million violent crimes, while whites committed a little more than three million violent crimes (7). If each black criminal had a 57 percent chance of encountering (and thus potentially victimizing) a white person, this means that over the course of 2002, blacks should have been expected to victimize roughly 690,000 whites. But in truth, blacks victimized whites only 614,176 times that year (8). Conversely, if each white criminal had only a three percent chance of encountering and thus victimizing a black person, this means that over the course of 2002, whites would have been expected to victimize roughly 93,000 blacks. But in truth, whites victimized blacks 135,931 times: almost 50 percent more often than would be expected by random chance (9)."

No one really likes statistics, except statisticians, and tabulating numbers can become mindnumbing. But, in the end, it is not about 'politically correct' information or misleading or misunderstood information, it is about TOTAL information!

I am not sure of the exact wording, but i believe that Rev. King's message was not just about Black Americans but how humans treat each other. I see it everyday, especially in High schools. It makes me worry about the future of the world with this self-centered view of the world and relating to the world that has become part of the values of our country. I find it very sad, that religion in America has lost its ability to change people.

I remember all too well the moment I first realized that I was racist.
That realization came to me almost exactly 30 years ago during Dr. Fred Herzog's theology class in my first year at Duke Divinity School when during a class discussion I realized that classmate Virgil Lattimore, who would later become a seminary president, was much more intelligent than I am. That surprised me. It was then I realized how racist I was - to my shame I was surprised because Virgil is African American and I had never experienced before the reality of an African American classmate who was clearly more intelligent than I (it was the '70s - I had been an undergraduate and graduate chemistry student at Illinois State where there had been very few African American students in my chemistry classes. Some of them may indeed have been more intelligent than I, but I had not yet experienced the reality of that.).
I was ashamed of my surprise. If someone had asked me if there were African American students in the Divinity School who were more intelligent than I, I think I would have replied that of course there were, but here in this moment I experienced it and it caught me off guard and I with a great deal of shame had to face the fact that I was racist.
That realization shattered my idealistic self-image: "my outspoken coal miner father was a racist, the classmates at ISU from the suburbs who used the n word freely were racist, George Wallace and Strom Thurmound were racists, but not me,I had been president of my United Methodist youth group. I thought Dr. King was a genuine American hero. I voted for Jesse Jackson." I wanted to shout.
But I could not because now I knew I was a racist. And that meant I had a lot of work to do. Hard work that involved my self-image, my faith, my relationships.
Reading the books of Dr. James Cone was one of the aids that helped me in seeing the depth of my sin and the ways to seek forgiveness and healing.
Listening to Dr. Herzog, who was a liberation theologian and Dr. Harvey Edwards, who was worked and marched with Dr. King helped also.
But for a white middle class male, who by virtue of the color of my skin, enjoys a certain privilige in our culture through no effort of my own, the journey from the illness and sin of racism is a long, on-going journey. Events like the arrests and trials of O. J. Simpson remind me that my journey to wholeness is not complete yet, as much as I wish it were so.
Thus, Bill Moyers' interview with Dr. Cone was a welcome, life-renewing experience. As a preacher, I like to listen to other preachers - when he or she tells the truth, especially when the preacher reveals a new truth to me. Uniting the cross and the lynching tree was such a new truth.
Our reluctance as a nation to engage in such conversations hinders our growth, our healing and we as a nation are certainly the poorer because of it.
Our inability to successfully understand the people of the Near East is but one instance of the consequences of our failure to talk frankly about race.
So thank you Dr. Cone! I have downloaded the interview and printed out the transcript so I might reread and study it. It is an unexpected act of grace to be blessed by your teaching once again.

Well said by Natalie Rosen. My reaction to the interview was very similar. Dripping with racism? You can't be serious!

I too was a little disappointed in Mr. Moyers. He came across less like a skilled interviewer and more like an awe-struck student sitting at the feet of the master. That's okay. Everybody has a bad day now and again.

The discussion on this topic was insightful, excellent, inspiring, en-lighting, brilliant,and inevitable. Bill Moyers, Dr. Cone and PBS; you have started a community discussion on the history and current relationships between the races in America.
I praise you for your bravery.
Please continue this topic in any format possible.
I am hooked on PBS!

Being relevant in the moment...that's what matters most. And that's what Mr. Moyers has always been about. And this recent conversation with Dr. Cone is just one step in long, rich history of intellectual discourse.

From his deep conversations with Joseph Campbell on the profound subject of "The Power of Myth", to the writing of his forward thinking book entitled "Healing and the Mind" (which was written way before that subject became cliche) it was, and has always been Bill Moyers leading the way.

But let's be clear, I like Mr. Moyers, not because I agree with everything he says. No, that's not it at all. Instead, I admire him because of his willingness to take risk and remain transparent. And to that point, I admire his willingness to challenge popular convention. Bill Moyers shows us that you can get to the bottom of things without being tacky, crass or sensationalistic. I mean, let's face it...the man has class. And in todays world of Faux News, that's a hard thing to come by.

Yet, aside from all the that, the truth is, is that he does what he's supposed to do. Plain and simple. He ask questions. Real questions. Questions that make you think. Questions that might offend. Questions that matter.

Because in the end, it's not a matter of simply getting along. It's more about a willingness to take a risk, risk which don't always end in certainty and comfort. Now, there's a litmus test. Because that is a true sign of honesty, curiosity ,courage and conviction.

So, I applaud Bill Moyers.

Thank you for raising the bar. Thank you for keeping your dignity. Thank you for being such a gentleman. Thank you for taking real risks. Thank you for stepping out front and center. And as some might say, thank you for just "keepin' it real".

Mr Moyers, you represent the America that I believe in, and there are plenty others who would do well to follow in your footsteps.

We should all be proud.

Max Eternity, Artist

I am absolutely aghast at Ms. Rosen's disgusting contribution to this forum. It is just dripping with her own racism, which of course only she is permitted to exhibit in current day American culture exclusively because of her own ethnic origin which gives her "carte blanche" to dismiss the struggles of any people other than her own .
If she wants others to take her holocaust seriously, she should start by taking other people's holocausts seriously.
I am waiting for the first accusations of anti semitism from the JDL types like Ms Rosen to appear on this blog. Such a label is supposed to turn off the spigot of my first amendment rights to speak about this subject - a subject which has become even more 'sensitive ' in modern day USA than the nooses.
I dare anyone to find the slightest substanstiated example of racism in my text, I'm only calling for understanding, awareness and sensitivity.

Dr. Cone mentions the book "The Irony of American History" by Reinhold Niebuhr. I have looked everywhere for this book and all I can find are rare versions for several hundreds of dollars. has a version it says will not be available until 2008. Why is this book so hard to find? Can anyone tell me where I might get a copy?

A preface: I will always love Bill Moyers.

I am riveted to most Bill Moyers interviews. Unfortunately, Dr. James Cone's interview did not inspire. I always want to give my honest assessment and hope you will indulge me my criticism. I loath being preached to and yelled at. Dr. Cone's loud diatribe lost me and at one point I turned the channel. I have the UTMOST empathy for the historical plight of the black man in this country. I must because I am a Jew. I know full well the impact of racism and its exclusion and what it does to a people and to a human psyche. My people were slaughtered for centuries, ghettoized and excluded often seemingly with no hope. Anti-Semitism exists en mass to this day. Jews had to come back from their near extinction and did so wherever they could through savvy intelligence, communicative abilities, education and hard work. While no two group's experience is the same, the similarities of racism, I believe, are profound.

Dr. Cone's sentiments, I thought, were cacophonous high decibel rants. While we should never forget man's inhumanity to anyone, Dr. Cone's utterings were a bit tiresome. I utterly agree with Bill Cosby. At some point one must take responsibility for one's own life. There are so many contributions blacks have made in every field. Yet, when one looks at many black ghettos one sees violence, drug addiction, crime, all manner of other illegalities and commonplace immoralities. Worse, one sees gangs which refuse to work with authority, commit murder and impose their own "justice" which means no justice at all. I see white's responsibility in part for this historically but I see present day behavior of some black people to be responsible today for their own deep malaise.

In our culture most people care about their own day-to-day lives. Sadly, this is not a very caring culture. As difficult a reality as that maybe be one has to work within that as best one can to create a better life because no one else will do that for him. Reading, education, effective communicative techniques, I believe, are some of the road maps out of the quagmire of poverty, horrific murder and crime. No one is going to give one the desire to achieve that. One must have those values instilled fundamentally in the family unit and one must use those values to make a better life.

I thought Bill Moyers was a little cowed by Dr. Cone and perhaps afraid to disagree or argue points with him either on race or religion. I thought Dr. Cone was preaching loudly to me and, frankly, I'm tired of the sermon.

I was deeply moved br Dr. Cone's presentation. I love his definition of religion and of the Divine - that which maintains your humanity in the midst of extraordinary degradation. (My paraphrase may not do him justice.) I am reminded of my teacher's (Rev. Dr. Bevery Lanzetta)comment: "God is that which cannot withdraw." people like Dr. Cone will help us create a conception of the divine that is truly compassionate and inclusive.

The poster Isome stated that most crime is intra-racial. The following extract from an article by noted columnist Walter Williams appears to negate that. Note the 4th paragraph:

Jewish World Review Aug. 18, 1999 /6 Elul, 5759

Walter Williams

An ugly conspiracy of silence --

"IF THERE'S TO BE RACIAL GOODWILL and harmony, at the minimum we must be willing to confront sometimes ugly truths. One of those truths has to do with interracial crime....

....Since 1972, the U.S. Department of Justice has conducted a National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) to determine the frequency of certain crimes.

One category is interracial crimes. Its most recent publication (1997), "Criminal Victimization in the U.S.," reports on data collected in 1994. In that year, there were about 1,700,000 interracial crimes, of which 1,276,030 involved whites and blacks. In 90 percent of the cases, a white was the victim and a black was the perpetrator, while in 10 percent of the cases it was the reverse.

Another finding of the NCVS report is that of the 2,025,464 violent crimes committed by blacks in 1994, 1,140,670 were against whites -- that's slightly over 56 percent. Whites committed 5,114,692 violent crimes; 135,360, or 2.6 percent were against blacks.

In 1997, there were 2,336 whites charged with anti-black crimes and 718 blacks charged with anti-white crimes, so-called hate crimes. Although the absolute number of white offenders was larger, the black rate per 100,000 of the population was greater, making blacks twice as likely to commit hate crimes....."

The other paragraphs also include some sobering statistics. With regard to hate crimes, note the 5th paragraph.

By all means, let there be a national discourse on racial prejudice and race relations, including the cowardly act of furtively hanging a noose. But all the facts should be put on the table, not just the politically correct ones.

Mr.Cone needs to calm down and get a reality check. maybe visit a psychiatrist.

He and some of the other black leaders are still obsessed with explicit symbols of white on black injustice such as KKK, the noose, lynchings et al. its because of people like him that most white Americans think racism in America doesnt exist. They say " oh look we have laws against KKK, we have laws against lynching, we have black employees in our office, hell we even shake hands with some of them".
The problem with Mr. Cone assessment of racism is that I dont think he realizes that racism in America is far more subtle now. We may have ended explicit segregation, but discrimination in in America has morphed into one of voluntary segregation where the white majority chooses to deliberately segregate themselves from African Americans and other minorities. For example we have all heard the term white flight, plus the recent news about the redistricting of areas in Missouri and Seattle where white families wanted to send their kids to school seperate from black children. This case reached the Supreme Court and they voted in favor of resegregation, where now African American children will now be denied the resources that are available to white children.
Plus even corporations that claim to be minority friendly...thats only because they promote white women into managerial positions and then tout about how they are all into diversity.

lets not forget that minorities Asian Latino and others choose to voluntarily segregate themselves from African Americans. so its not just white folks who discriminate

Extraordinary presentation! I turned on the TV, got schooled and had church! Amen Dr. Cone! Amen! And thank you Bill Moyers for intelligent programming.

I cannot recall which prominent Washington DC personality proclaimed that 'race is no longer an issue in America', but clearly, it still is. Are things better now, than they were in the past? Yes. But to dismiss and deny that there is still work to be done is the loose brick that threatens to collapse the foundations built by progressives over the last century and more. The judge who casually allowed the students who hung those nooses to go unpunished set the stage for more trouble.
The subsequent gang beating of the white student involved was not a proud moment, either, but it is gross injustice to ignore the psychologically violent and very, very loaded symbolism of the nooses. Some in America, regrettably, would have us dragged back to a time when rampant intimidation and collective murder were enforced by corruption, indifference to justice, and institutionalized racism.
Those that dismiss the hanging of nooses as being a harmless prank are on a slippery slope. Either they secretly approve of such threatening insults, or their ignorance of the very real, very bloody recent past is shockingly deep. In this day and age, such ignorance must not be tolerated or excused.

Brad Leon wrote:

"... you seem to care less about reporting news as promoting a point of view. While that may be your intention, you do a disservice to your listeners by reporting on only one side of the issue."

This is not a news show, it is a journal, and a different perspective from that found in mainstream media is the primary selling point.

It would not be interesting to hear from those who think that hanging a noose in an office or from a tree is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. And, it would be sickening to hear from those who recognize their relatives (or even themselves) in the pictures of lynchings that were sent around as celebratory momentos of the occasion and feel pride about it.

Let's get this straight, hanging the individual from the tree wasn't all that was done to the victim. Most of the men were also castrated and burned. There was even a preganant Black woman whose stomach was sliced open.

That Brad Leon thinks those on the 'other side' of this issue should be heard says much more about Brad's thought processes than it does about Bill Moyers' point of view. I'm sure any Klan rally or Aryan gathering would provide Brad all the information he seeks.

When Dr. Cone talks about Americans inability to recognize their lack of innocence he hits the nail on the head, and it is reaffirmed by some of the comments here. Someone wrote of African slavery (Africans holding other Africans as slaves) to minimize the horrors of enslaved Africans in America. What that poster fails to point out (or perhaps is ignorant of) is that slavery in Africa was not the brutal and lifelong institution that it was here in America. Further, the poster attempts to camouflage the current day effect slavery has by pointing to other enslaved people in history. No other people were denied their language, their customs, their family ties and their basic humanity as the enslaved Africans in America. That's the bottom line, whether others choose to recognize it or not.

That fact that Africans in America commit crimes against other Africans isn't a mitigating factor for the crime of hanging a noose to scare people of African descent. Crime is not race exclusive; most crime in INTRA-racial not interracial, so it should be no surprise that there are criminals in every group, racial or otherwise.

With respect to the same poster's claim that Blacks terrorize other Blacks more than anyone else, that is pure bigoted conjecture and another attempt to negate the racism that still lives in the hearts of too many Americans.

Yes, I believe that people understand what the hangman’s noose means in America for African Americans. This symbol is a sore reminder to the world that our society is still in its infancy. Dr. Cone comparison of lynching to the cross is so profound. It makes me wonder how many devout Christians were lynched? His assessment that prisons are another form of lynching is an extremely important point. I strongly believe that our federally funded corporate prison system is another form of enslavement for the African American male, the poor, and the disenfranchised.

The sea of white people attending the lynching in the newspaper clipping was shocking, yet I wondered; how many of them claimed and knew in their hearts that they were devout Sunday-go-to-meeting Christians? Ironically, after delving into genealogy, I wondered how many were passing for white?

Racism is useless. Evidently, whites in America can’t tell the difference and blacks in America look the other way. Personally, I feel that if that this subject is presented everyday, racism would dissipate, but knowingly, our society would come up with something to categorize, classify, and organize us by the way our fingers are shaped. Passing is a painful subject.

My first comment and I love this journal.

Blogging is a new experience for me, but I feel compelled to share my reaction to Bill Moyers’ interview with Dr. Cone. My initial reaction was negative - the shrill, accusatory voice of this guest grated on my nerves. However, I was intrigued by his comparison between the cross and the lynching tree, a new perspective for me. But the longer he spoke, the more I perceived a tortured logic, nor could I keep from noticing his body language - the right hand seemed to be twisting a knife in someone, again and again. While Dr. Cone suggested - demanded - dialogue between whites and blacks, he set a poor example. In place of dialogue, what I saw was an angry black man ranting. I saw a man who admits he enjoys making whites uncomfortable browbeating, verbally, the host who was providing him with a platform on national TV, the fair-minded Bill Moyers.
Therefore when I read these responses, I was astounded at how many guilt-ridden people had “bought into” Dr. Cone’s idea of America’s “original sin”! Come on, the “America” of here and now is a widely diverse group of individuals in a certain geographical location, governed by a particular political system. As one of those individuals, I had nothing to do with slavery. While my ancestry includes at least one slave owner on my mother’s side (Southerners), it also includes four generations of active Presbyterian abolitionists from southern Ohio and middle Illinois on my father’s side.
We individual humans develop opinions and beliefs through individual life experiences, so please bear with the following autobiographical information. I am a 73-year-old white woman, born in Texas, whose religious upbringing began in a Southern Baptist Sunday School and continued in the Episcopal church of my teens. In early adulthood I became an independent thinker and “seeker.” By my early 30's I had found the compassionate teachings of Buddhism and was practicing regular meditation. Lacking regular, close social interaction with groups of black people (how could I have made it happen?), I turned to books such as John Howard Griffin’s Black Like Me, Alex Haley’s Roots, Maya Angelou’s autobiographical series, and Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father for understanding. What I’m trying to say is that it is time for angry blacks like Dr. Cone to admit that many whites can be empathetic without groveling in guilt.
But to get back to the “jumping-off”point of the interview, the nooses. Dr. Cone seems to attribute their appearance to some malignant white power structure returning from the evil dominance of years past. I disagree. I’m with the fellow blogger who thinks it’s likely these symbols of terror have been perpetrated by angry youth, most likely disempowered economically and lacking in basic self-respect. Disenfranchised blacks and whites of America need to recognize our common enemy, people of power who worship The Economy and value personal success over the well-being of their fellow humans. Evil monsters they are not, but people who live and breathe the prevailing frenzied, materialistic, culture - like fish unaware of the water in which they swim. Humanity needs another enlightened leader of the status of Martin Luther King, another man of good will who expounds faith in the basic goodness of human beings of all colors.
Thanks for “listening.”

The noose incident at Jena had nothing to do with race.
Whites were hanged too, prolly many more times than blacks.
Most of these noose cases are just hoaxes, I am positive that that affirmative action Ed. Prof .at Columbia did it herself to garner sympathy and extort a law suit. There is no mistake that petty crap , like this noose hysteria, is happening in this election cycle. The black power race hustlers, with the aid of their spineless liberal sidekicks, are trying to make blacks into some great big victims group so they can weasel out of their crimes and get more handouts and set aside jobs.

Sorry, but that interview left me cold. Calling the high percentage of blacks in prison a result of modern day lynching? Please! Cone lost all credibility with me when he came up with that one.

I was happy to finally learn more about this subject, which is usually considered too touchy and taboo to even approach. Although, it's terrible that the opportunity for conversation has come about because of racist scaremongering.

Dr. Cone makes an important point by comparing the crucifix to the hanging tree. The grim specter of the hanging tree in American culture does indeed symbolize the crucifixion of blacks. This is why nooses have the terrifying psychological impact that they do, because they symbolize the black American's crucifixion.

Thanks to both of you for the discussion. My own experience is that white folks still do not recognize their whiteness...Even at the Smithsonian, where I volunteer, folks just do not get it and certainly do not want to discuss differences! I do believe that anti-black is in our DNA in this country...and no matter how educated...we just do not recognize our "White Thang."

Response to Brad Leon

It is said "There is none so blind as he who refuses to see and none so blind as one who refuses to hear"

May be Mr Moyers should bring a KKK member to come defend the reason for Lynching

This was the most inspiring discussion I've seen on TV all year and one of the most ever.

All my life, I've heard many in the majority say that their heritage in this country began after slavery, therefore are not responsible. However, accepting the identity of majority also meant accepting it's histor and present. Regardless of when an ancestor came on board, the entire history belongs to those who identify with the group. Those in the majority now, have an opportunity to find a solution to the race issue, along with those who are not. Let's take this opportunity and run with it.

This was the most inspiring discussion I've seen on TV all year and one of the most ever.

All my life, I've heard many in the majority say that their heritage in this country began after slavery, therefore are not responsible. However, accepting the identity of majority also meant accepting it's histor and present. Regardless of when an ancestor came on board, the entire history belongs to those who identify with the group. Those in the majority now, have an opportunity to find a solution to the race issue, along with those who not. Let's take this opportunity and run with it.

Jim S. wrote: "When I come before another person then as a child of God, I can love that person only when I see Christ in that person."

I believe that Jim has spoken for too many "Americans" who call themselves Christians and don't love as Christ loved.

Is is saddening that in 2007 the Jim S's of the world still feel this way about race, prejudice and hate. What is sad is that you can only love those who you see Christ in.

I am certainly glad that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son...even yet while the world didn't have Christ in them. God loves even when He doesn't see Christ in us.

Saints don't need salvation because they have obtained it; what good is your love if you only want to share it with person's who you feel is like you?

How do you plan to win unbelievers or the unsaved? Christ did not see His character reflected in those who hung him on the cross, yet He loved them and hung on the cross for them.

This should be the reason to love...because Christ first loved us and because He is in you, you can show His love who those who "you perceive" don't have Christ in them.

You may want to revisit the message of the Gospels becasue Christ came for those who were lost, unloving, unwanted, rejected, despised and hated. And since you say that He is in you, you should too.

I question this "Christ" you have for it would compel you to love.

It is opinions like this that keep the walls of injustice and prejudice from falling down.

So DP has a hard time "taking serious" a aperson whose ideology is taken from song lyrics? Many besides Dr. Cone take that song very seriously. Last June I was privileged to attend the world premiere of an opera, "Strange Fruit," in the Memorial Auditorium at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

"With Friday night's opener in Memorial Hall, the world premiere of "Strange Fruit" by composer Chandler Carter and librettist Joan Ross Sorkin, the [Long Leaf Opera] company is on its way to fulfilling its great promise.

Based on the controversial 1944 novel by Lillian E. Smith, [which in turn inspired the even more famous song] the opera is set in 1920s rural Georgia and centers on the forbidden love affair between Tracey, a young white man, and Nonnie, a black nursemaid. When Nonnie tells Tracey she's pregnant, he is unable to face the consequences and breaks off the relationship, suggesting she marry his black servant Henry for cover. When Nonnie's hotheaded brother Ed learns the situation, he hunts down Tracey and kills him. Matters get worse when Henry is wrongly accused of the crime, leading to a mob's chilling retribution. Nonnie braves it all, determined to bring up her child in a better future.

Dr. Cone gave a supurb accounting of the racial situation today. As usual, Bill Moyers knows how to pick 'em.
Sarah Greene, Gilmer, Texas

Mr. Cone speaks honestly and from his heart; knowingly of injustice and pain. I noticed with diaappointment that when he spoke other peoples who have endured ugly acts of discrimination in this country, he too, forgot to include Native Americans. Maybe that's because those that remain are are only roughly 2% of the population.








Thank you Mr. Moyers and Mr. Cone. What a revelatory discussion. I look forward to reading the books by Dr. Cone, as what he said surpassed any other dialogue I have ever heard on the interaction between oppressor and oppressed. This is a wonderful blueprint for life. Dr. Cone, the work I have been doing lately with a very difficult school leader I now see in another light. You put words to my very feelings. You illuminate the idea that it is the powerless who must seize their inner power and connect to that oppressor through their humanity. This is the work I have been doing, and now I understand why. I looked at it as conflict resolution. But it is so much more. It is a blueprint for any struggle of power/powerlessness. Although I fear many people will distort the religious intent you gave in your discussion, that's the nature of religion. I'll leave that out of my own discoveries, but will certainly look to the way Dr. Cone describes that process in the overall struggle toward a greater truth. Here's to meeting in the middle; here's to moving toward understanding and compassion. Thank you Dr. Cone! Thank you as always, Bill Moyers, for providing such thoughtful dialogue on the difficult issues we grapple with today.

As someone who has a long held identification with those oppressed, I found the conversation very inspiring.

Your discussion with Dr. Cone brought the short novel "The Oxbow Incident" to mind. Would love to hear Dr. Cone's evaluation of the message that work conveys in regard to his topic on your program.

Thank you Mr. Moyers for bringing us another challenging and thought provoking interview with Dr. Cone. As a layman who spends a good deal of time in the study of theology, I will now add James Cone's books to my reading list. I particularly liked the review of his "Spirituals and the Blues". Since I enjoy both very much I shall now listen with a new ear.

While I found much of Dr. Cone's theology of the cross and the noose of intellectual interest, I found his suggestions that dialogue on the latter will help restore harmony between the races to be a bit naive. Instead I see the cross as God's way to restore the harmony of His entire creation. Christ's suffering and death was payment for my sin and all those who come to Him in faith.

When I come before another person then as a child of God, I can love that person only when I see Christ in that person. I see the restoration of harmony between the races and among all peoples as a result of having first been restored to peace with God through Christ Jesus. For it is only through His law of love - "Love one another, just as I have loved you" - that all of us will loose our fear of one another, and that none of of us will have to project ourselves before others through the lens of our individual heritage. To quote St Paul, "There is neither German nor Englishman, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither black nor white; for you are all one in Christ Jesus"

I was captivated by Dr Cone's comments. He made a lot of sense, particularly in his appeal to our common humanity. I didn't quite get his insistence on coming to terms with slavery, lynchings, etc. But I do know that I need to come to terms with where I grew up, where there was a big problem with racial issues. I am grateful to hear Dr Cone's words, as so much of what I've learned about race and, particularly, Black people, has been mediated by whites. I tend to think of discussion on race as being passe, but Dr Cone has dispelled that notion!

Bill and Dr. Cone: your dialog was inspirational. I was raised a SE Louisiana racist, grandson of a slaveholder. You continue my journey into the light.

I would appreciate, Dr. Cone (and others) your comments on my "12 Steps for Racism" below. Thank you very much.


1.We are white Americans. We gained our advantage in this society, in part, from our ancestral and current enslavement, segregation and marginalization of African Americans.

2.Believe that God alone can reconcile this travesty.

3.Made a decision turn ourselves over to God to heal this injustice.

4.Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5.Admitted to God, to ourselves and to at least one other person (group) the exact nature of our wrongs.

6.Are entirely ready to have God remove the residual defects of this injustice in us.

7.Humbly asked God to cleanse us of these flaws of heritage and living.

8.Made a list of all the people we have harmed and became willing to make amends to all of them.

9.Made amends to them, where possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10.Continued to make a personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

11.Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12.Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to white America, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Hill Kemp, November 2007

Mr. Moyers,

I am unsubscribing from your podcast for the same reason I won't subscribe to most shows on Fox; you seem to care less about reporting news as promoting a point of view. While that may be your intention, you do a disservice to your listeners by reporting on only one side of the issue.

Brad Leon

Evil and good all mixed up together... sounds like American politics. I am a late middleaged white man who has borrowed what soul he has from oppressed people. Yes, caring and empathetic people do have a harder time working in America. Yes, People with self-respect do have a harder time getting a job. Yes, People who are humanitarian and/or forgiving Christian do live in fear of being singled out to be punished as negative examples. Being black makes these things harder because you can't put your color away, and blacks are a symbol as powerful as the cross or the noose. Every little black boy who rides his bike past my block is a symbol of our shameful history, but also an innocent child. (We keep 21/2 million Amerindians invisible in ghettoes, on reservations,in the military, at degrading casinos.) 32 million blacks are as many people as in Iraq, and they could be a problem for elite economic domination. Even worse, they are mostly Christian, not Islamic. Still they are the easy scapegoats of the new Nazi-American Order. If you are white just remember that your neck will fit in that noose too. (Saddam Hussein's did.)Look how innocent civilians are treated by our military, our contractors, our corporations. The slaughter has never stopped. When we at home are spent out, houses and cars repossessed, credit revoked, investments crashed, living waged jobs long gone we will be no more respected than Palestinians in Gaza.
For the powerful class democracy and Christianity mean what they need them to mean, and they can afford no mercy, just co-optation for a few servants. Blacks have survived exploitation and we can too, but we must establish true solidarity with them and their history. It won't be perfect: just a little more good than bad mixed together. Change is coming fast and we must act now to shape it. Learn some "blues songs" before it is too late.

I was awaken out of my sleep to the conversation with Moyers & Cone it was good.

I just have this to say lynching is still present today in many ways and economic lynching is one of them, every president of a company should take a look at the pay scales of blacks against whites especially the darker blacks and the positions if blacks.

The darker you are the less likely are are to be in management. People don't want to talk about racisium, they want to cover it up.

Cone was right the Church is the only place Black Americans can be themselves. You can't at work because we have to spend a lot of time and money trying to look white and be white; and I'm focusing on work because this is where I experience most of my lynching.

White Americans got to stop lookinig at Black Americans as lazy and trying to get something for nothing. For instance, where I work you can go to another department and do an exploratory interview, the exploratory interview I went to my manager was told that there was a lot of overtime required. At the e-interview I 3 questing about the overtime. How is it structured, when does it happen, and how often. Simply because I do Church activities several days during the week and on Sunday's.

Suppossly this is not a formal interview, you are can are supposed to be able to ask questions to see if this is an area you want to work in.

My manager received a call from the manager of the e-interview that stated she was unconfortable with me because I was asking questions about overtime and she believed that I was only interested in making money.

So the White girl got the called for a formal interview and got the job.

Mind you my qualifications and experiences were better than hers and she had not even be at the company for 1 year.

Instead of my manager let the other manager know that I am not a lover of overtime, and I only do it if I have to.

What she didn't know was that any overtime I work taking it in time, because overtime puts me in another tax bracket and I have two children in college, but most importantly my time is valuable to me and the things that I do after work, my jobs does not define who I am, God does and the questions I asked were relevant and in a professional manner.

My point is I was missunderstood but, this was okay with me because I was interviewing them to and I could tell they were prejudice and I didn't want to work with them.

I believe in the Cross and I believe the Promises of God, and no one can take it away from me!

Cone makes a valid point. Depending on which side of the tracks you come the Cross and the Lynching Tree can be view as the same.

Just at the song says, " At the Cross at the Cross where I first saw the light and the burdens of my heart rolled away, it was there by faith I received my sight and now I am happy all the days."

Just like Cone said, this is his story.

I look forward to watching Bill Moyers,but when Dr. James Cone first started talking,I started to think of channel changing. However, within a few moments, he was giving me insight to the american psyche in an understanding I had not previously heard. Coming from another country I just didn't 'get it'as far as why there is such resentment against each other,but now I have a much greater insight into the underpinnings of what makes america tick. His analogy to the "cross and the lynching tree" rings true, and the fact that we are all brothers and sisters in this dance is a powerful lesson. Not only has he made me understand what an african american feels, he has brought me closer to why Jesus hung on the cross.His message that those who understand must make a grass roots effort to let the good overcome the evil is well taken.

My initial reaction to the first part of the story was that Dr. Cone was himself perpetuating the troubles of racial division through identification with a single race. It is through such divisions as race and religion that enables groups to committ atrocities in the name of that group, as well as the subsequent victim identification with the oppressed group. However; Dr. Cone began in the second part to address and shed light on that which I see as the truth. Personal accountability. Individual responsibility. By voicing and articulating your personal experience can the individual be empowered. When a person listens to and understands another person, the listener gains the ability to empathize with that person. Our problems with race are metaphors for our inner struggle. Our problems lie in the tension within us caused by conflicting forces. Man is civilized. Man is animal. The good and evil, the black and white, the polarities we percieve outside of us are merely reflections of the choice we must all make everyday. I loved Dr. Cone's comment regarding transcendence through expression. To speak of good and evil is to create a third perspective, and it is through this third door that we may temporarily elevate into the realm of immortality. Forgive the deviation from cold hard fact. The sunlight on my neck inspired me to dance a bit.

Love and Light,
Micah Bennett

what Dr. Cones has brought to light tells the story of human kind for thousands of years. He reveals how the powerful by a variety of means, deny, rationalize and eventually destroy what they obsessively try to create.
it is a story lived again and again. I am sure it went on before Christ and it surely has gone on since Christ and even in Christs' name.
It is the story of people failing their own humanity and what humanity is revealed as, is that which is of God in each and every one of us.
To do anything that is designed to take humanity from another, will take humanity from you.
This is the story of those who gain some form of advantage over others and use it to control, abuse and or destroy them in some way.
Though the people who create their advantage have done so for thousands of years and have gotten more technologically sophisticated in their attempts, they are in reality fighting against God and so fail with horrible consequences each time.
The amount of time they can abuse their advantage and keep the illusion of their control in place is equal to the ability of the people they oppress to keep their humanity.
this is how those who have had all the things taken away that humankind can give, have in the end, seen the end of their oppressors power everytime.
When people are placed in a position of what seems powerlessness. When people are placed in a position that can break their hearts, minds and bodies and still practice humanity. Still practice that love, forgiveness and mercy that is in essence, God. They tear down the foundations of any form of power that does any harm to any living thing in the name of their right to be powerful. The right to be powerful over another is the exact opposite of humanity. it is the opposite of any teaching of Christ. It is the empire built again and again that can exist only if people fail to choose the power of humanity over the power of human oppression, even in its' most benign form.

Mr. Moyers,

I am relatively new to The Journal. I just want to thank you for having such an informative show. In the last few months, I have just learned so much...and now each Friday is PBS night for me!

Hope you had a great holiday and thanks again. Keep up the great work that you have been doing for us all.

Dear Mr Moyer thanks so much for another excellent interview.

BTW gadfly, that is
Newton's third law of motion not Einstein's

Excellent Bill Moyers and PBS!

The subject, still difficult to come to terms with for most whites as well as blacks. Particularly whites who are unwilling to acknowledge the truth. Of course, the larger issue here is indeed the reality that we humans have yet to evolve beyond our brutish and barbaric predispositions as preditory beings. Slavery and modern day slavery is but a clear demonstration of man's own inhumanity to man-kind.

This is what TV should be.

BrotherJames Cone's interview was a very delightful illuminating of the certitude of speaking "truth to power." His very example of our prison systems essentially illustrating the crux of the lynching tree is very insightful. Even F. Dostoyevsky said the measurement of a civilization in how it treats is children is next to how it treats its prisoners.
Reinhold Niebuhr is a very good example.

As long as we accept the inevitability of hierarchy, there will be victims and victimizers. The vast majority of the labor class in America are not even aware of this. They do not question an economic system which says they are not worth as much as the idiot in the suit.
I have a gut feeling that the white guys who direct their anger at other races are victims themselves. They have successfully been fed a mythology that deflects their rage downward.
Thank you, Bill Moyers, for posing the difficult questions.

Thanks so much for this engaging and enlightening program. Dr. Cone's analogy of the cross and the hanging tree as symbols that pointed to one one another was a thought provoking perspective.
He had wonderful things to say, so I was saddened when he limited slavery to the black prisoners in today's prisons.
Slavery is BIG business on the world scale--from human trafficking and the asian sex trade in which small children are forced to work, to african children picking the beans for the chocolate we eat.
Not only do we need to be talking to each other in community about what has happened in out country's history but we need to be involved in doing what we can to stand against the slavery that is occuring at this point in time.
I can't undo the past, but I can do my part to help others escape the hell of slavery in the present.
Some places to start investigating slavery today are the International Justice Mission ( and the Not For Sale website.

Thanks, Bill Moyers, for giving your viewers television worth watching!

Thanks Bill,The interview with Dr.Cone was exquisite.The fact that nooses are surfacing in different public spaces represent a consciousness of symbols of America past and possibly her future.These realities manifest a tension in ones soul that elicit guilt,fear,power and a hideous supression of truth.The perception is delusional and based on what the Germans call Herrenvolk.It was Einstein who said for every action there is a equal and opposite reaction.

In the Fall of 2001, we (all of America) were told we were in a fight for our very lives and that this "War on Terror" would have international repercussions but lead us down a path to domestic tranquility.

Since 1619 enslaved Africans and their "freed" descendents have been fighting a "War on Terror", of which the noose and the cross were but two symbols and depending on their uses robbed America of any hope of tranquility, domestic or otherwise. Dr. Cone made an excellent point in that we (All of America) would do well to recognize the bootstrap effort of a hopelessly persecuted people who were able to use the power of one symbol to transcend the destructive power of the other symbol.

Perhaps there is a point we can take away from this program. In our willingness to converse, we may not agree on the relevant issues, but at least we are willing to sit together at the same table to continue our debate. Perhaps with that same willingness there is a hope that together we will find a way to define plausible strategies for all that ails our country and the world.

The conversation between Bill Moyers and Dr. Cone was brilliant. My wish is that Joseph Campbell could have added his insights. Symbols, whether they be of success, tragedy, oppression - whether representing "good" or "evil" - represent deep seated beliefs and emotions.
The meaning and impact of symbols such as the cross and the noose can truly resonate only with those whose cultural roots are grounded in the experience symbolized by the specific objects or images. I don't believe just knowing about something can ever equate with having the cultural connection that engenders the emotional impact.

Tonight's show has provided me with much to ponder and, yes, it will drive me to read Dr. Cone and to return to my beloved Joseph Campbell as well.

Dr. Cone considered slavery America's "original sin". I believe our orginal sin(s) began with the Native Americans...

The powerful grasp that lynching as a historical fact and metaphor of power has is uniquely Black American. Yet, the Cross is transcendent in ways that Cone deploys as a powerful insight. His brilliance reminds us that 32 million Black Americans are truly a global ways that southern whites never were or can be....the lynchers became small and we offspring of the lycnhed--ex-slaves grew in stature.

when we then reflect on what it means that the descendants of southern whites wield so much electoral influence thanks to the modern GOP, the irony is overwhelming....southern trees indeed have borne strange fruit. Will the torturers at Abu Ghraib have a legacy that shrinks as well? What fruit does Prez Bush and his war bring for the US--black and white?

I am always offended when I see lynching photos with masses of whites and there is no mention of the fact that almost 100% of the men, women and children present in the photos consider themselves good christians who hear sermons on sundays praising their actions. Why does a discussion of the cross and the lynching tree not look at one of these sermons and ask where christianity went off the rails?

while obviously lynching, murder, terror etc. etc. are horrible and should be condemned, i think we really need to look more in-depth at the individual noose stories that we've heard so much about lately.

from what ive read in the actual local jena newspaper, the noose in that case was probably not directed at black students and has been hyped and brought into the story to try to make the jena 6 look better than they really are. theres a lot of talk that the noose there was actually a joke aimed at the rodeo team and had nothing to do with race!

And then im suspicious there was video of the columbia professors door that the police took but then have never said anything. is it that hard to watch a video and see who the culprit was!? there are many many cases (including the duke lacrosse team!!!) of people making up hate crimes because they want to make a point or get attention, and at this point since the story just died I would bet that the Columbia story was just another hoax.

James cone seems like a good guy but there are definitely people out there like al sharpton and morris dees of the sothern poverty law center (google him, hes a huckster who hypes hate crimes to shake down more people to bring in more $$$) who profit by making so-called hate crimes seem like a much bigger problem than they actually are.

theyre probably not all hoaxes, but I think enough of them are that we cant say that it’s an epidemic of nooses or something like that. as for the other nooses, who knows? Most of them are probably from hateful people, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if some of them aren’t people trying to make a point about how crazy and one sided america’s talk about race is.

in the end people make their own decisions about what does or doesnt offend them and I hope most people decide that all this noose stuff is just plain stupid and the best thing is to ignore it.

I will begin with "WORDS MEAN DIFFERENT THINGS TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE". With this in mind I disagree with Dr. Cone in that some of his points seem to be OVERSIMPLIFIED. Logic causes his point '...that we do not have to know much about Holocaust or Lynching to know what the words mean', seems out of touch with reality. I'm quite certain there are many people of a FULL RANGE OF AGES in this country who do not know what these words imply due to a variety of reasons.
Dr. Cone's other point about caucasian and African Americans Needing to come together as Community cannot happen , in my mind, as long as any person or group CONTINUES TO PUT SO MUCH FOCUS ON THEIR DIFFERENCES! ALL individuals will become aware of each others differences in a natural way in the same race or family or country; and each individual will choose how to respond. And continuing to 'LIVE IN THE PAST by repeating History'seems detrimental to creating Community from the Heart in the True sense by staying focused on the Present situation common courtesy and kindness.
Dr.Cone's use of the word POWER, in my mind, is connected to FORCE as a verb and I felt he was trying to describe the Gentle, Invisible Spirit of the Creative Life force that keeps our hearts beating each day and plants growing on this point I had to keep shifting mental gears in order to understand what he was trying to get said, almost like communicating with a person who speaks another language.
As a Caucasian of European ancestry, I do not feel Guilt connected with the African Americans history as I had no part in it, or the Native Americans plight BUT I do feel especially like wanting to be courteos,thoughtful & kind to them as Fellow HUMANS.

ALSO I'm GRATEFUL to be American citizen, but CERTAINLY I feel NO pride in being an American as I had no control over my Ancesters coming here. And I'm grateful for this Blog site and Mr. Moyers program.

i think that it wasn`t stated that alot of lynchings were in the form of capital punishment for crimes comited against the races.that part was left out of course,and what and to hear whp benefits from bringing this up now.its the past water under the doesn`t do anybody any good for this era.

A very enlighten show. And yes, the local kcet station in OC California did loose its audio...but I pulled out the lap top and tagged along online...glued from LiL Latin America...Santa Ana California. I have a deep afinity to all that is Black/Afro American, as Ske Ne Bo & his brother Kalvin, taught me English during the first 8 years of my life in Northern Indiana, in our home next to the Baptist Church where it's gosple music introduced me to "world" other than Mexican. We loved each other, I know that now. And we didn't know "race" . Until we left the safety of our yard. Indiana, Mid West...strong KKK history, northern indiana, tons of european immigrants, all "privileged" beyond my black brothers and sisters beyond my latino brothers and sisters. This program spoke the truth. America is not innocent. As we "enjoy" our Thanksgiving leftovers...remember the genocidal roots, not a "mission accomplished" for Native Americans still "exsist"...the U.S. "innocent"... no WAY... we know that, WE Mexican, African, and Native Americans... to "dark" to ever become "privileged"... the dialogue is long overdue, but be sure you are doing your part to make a difference. Good job Mr. Moyers!

It was a horible injustice that happened to the Jews when the Jews were imprisoned in Natzi camps, however they were not forced to build a country for free and rightfully so they were compensated for the wrongs they suffered and continue to be compensated in some form or fashion to this very day. Now, when the Africans were shipped here during the slave trade and forced to build a nation and not only not get paid the promised 40 acres and a mule but upon release, denied education, housing and work. And guess what as part of your freedom you shall be Free to be hung, whipped, raped and tortured and denied the right to exist as your freed counterparts. Fear and ignorance is a lethal cocktail still ever present in America. Yes Blacks kill Blacks just as Whites Kill Whites Hispanics kill Hispanics and so on. Let go of your FEAR-and ask God for understanding. Think of it like this: Two runners are lined up at the start of the 100 meter dash, one Black & one White-just as the runners head for the blocks the line judge says to the White runner YOU will start at the 50 meter mark and you Black man will start at the start line; probability says you will win White man because you had a headstart. Welcome to America. Don't let fear and ignorance stop you from being part of the solution.

Those who identify with the powerless, as the victums of torture & lynchings...are the victorious beings. They have not surroundered their hearts, minds, Spirits and Souls to hate, to evil as the perpetrators, on whatever part of this earth, past present & future. It will stop as each one does our part to SEE that it DOES! God gives the ultimate power: Love & light in the darkness and that NO ONE can kill!

It's so funny how whenever black people start really discussing their history, specifically slavery, whites instantly digress with all these little hypothetical scenarios and side issues...anything to NOT deal with the actual history at hand.

This was a black man talking about black people and the relationship between the noose and the crucifix....nobody is denying that other races were persecuted or that the noose was used as a tool for fear against others....but this conversation was not about that.

These posts are a prime example of how each time slavery is brought up and discussed..nobody wants to talk about it! Can we try to keep to the topic at hand, the same way we do when we discuss the Civil war and the Holocaust. Can we not give an examination of slavery that same attention and intensity?

As usual, a job well done by Bill Moyers and an excellent discussion.

While I hesitate to comment (due to my local PBS station in Los Angeles losing the audio of the first 15 minutes of the discussion with Dr. Cone), insufficient data never seems to stop the trolls, who've already done a drive-by, I see...

So, instead of making the same old ethnic excuses and slanders couched in philosophical boilerplate over America's racist past (and present), can we all agree that lynching is a primitive activity, conducted by people enraptured by a primitive philosophy handed down and maintained by its adherents? That goes for homophobia, religious bigotry, sexism, and any other socially negative "ism" humans love to wallow in, because humans are still primitives, IMO.

Regardless of our technological achievements, spiritually we're still obsessed with territory, hierarchy, and the exercise of power. We're all Fred Flintstone with a laptop and a laser gun, and if I were a self-respecting, civilized alien, I wouldn't come near this backward, polluted planet inhabited by savages, instead, I'd hang a sign outside the solar system: "Beware, Headhunters".

Now, until we can all wrap our primitive heads around this simple concept, discussions of "race," whatever the hell that means, will continue to be frustrated and largely unresolved.

It's so funny how whenever black people start really discussing their history, specifically slavery, whites instantly digress with all these little hypothetical scenarios and side issues...anything to NOT deal with the actual history at hand.

This was a black man talking about black people and the relationship between the noose and the crucifix....nobody is denying that other races were persecuted or the noose a tool for fear against others....but this conversation was not about that.

These posts are a prime example of how each time slavery is brought up and discussed..nobody wants to talk about it! Can we try to keep to the topic at hand. The way we do when we discuss the Civil war and the Holocaust. Can we not give an examination of slavery that same attention and intensity?

When your host uses the shame of slavery that turns so many people off. For one thing, as bad and horrible slavery was who would trade places here with anyone from Afica.
Anothe thing that erks me is when we focus on the crime of slavery we somehow sanitize the deplorable treatment of the freed slaves from the North. Let us not forget the conditions of the South after the Civil War; the landscape was scorched, the farmland delapitated, try to find a mule, most of them were eaten, try to find a tool, most of them rusted, try to find seed, most of them rotted. With this backdrop of poverty and desolation what did our proud slave-freeing Congress do? They cut off all aide to the freedman except bare medical supplies. Despite all of this the African Americans built schools and found money for teachers. I do not know how but I know why. Because they wanted for their children a way of life so long deprived from them... I cannot say anything so magnificiant of my ancestors, though I wish I could.

people, throughout written history, all over the world have been and still are terrorized and or opressed by someone or something. whether by religious fanatics, political factions, family members and even peoples of the same race. it is not just an american dilema. Nor is it just a "white/black" thing. Slavery and opression has affected every race at one time or another. as a so called "white" person,(irsh, french, polish and a couple of others) i feel the same kind of prejudice towards my race as any other race. i see more hatred and opression from within the "black" community towards their own people than i do from "whites". what "white" people are they all talking about anyway? do they remember what the civil war was all about and how many "white" people died for the cause. there will never be an end to prejudice between races untill it ends within the races.

Kudos to Mr. Moyers for a absolutely great interview with one of America's distinguished religious scholars and public intellectual, Dr. James Cone. I think that his ideas linking American history, lynchings and religion are very provocative and important to (re)igniting a much-needed critical discourse on race, racial oppression, and racial formation in the 21st century.

Hi All,
I would like to share with you the 13 minute documentary I produced with my 11th Grade U.S. History Class while I was a teacher at McCLymonds H.S. in Oakland Ca.

It highlights the use of the "noose" as part of discussion on Reparations. I recently updated it as part of my doctoral research in socio-cultural neuroscience. Please feel free to circulate it.

Modern nooses are meant to be symbols of fear, which is at the heart of all prejudice, racial and otherwise.

They reflect a greater social unrest and uncertainty in Modern America, fueled in part by the Iraq War and the growing gap between rich and poor. Some people feel they must resort to symbols of fear like the noose and traditional scapegoats like the African-American community to regain a sense of personal and social control. (It's also interesting how America is now directing that obsession to its new, large minority - Latin-Americans.)

You and your guest have done it again--found the human pulse for an important disease and connected the stethoscope to the megaphone! (And literally with Dr. Cone.)

It was beautiful, and I hope we can follow what you have helped him to start.

Praise God Almighty!

I have a difficult time taking serious a person whose entire ideology is taken from song lyrics. I would ask Mr. Cone what the role of the black person would be if they were in the majority. If blacks imported white slaves to africa, would they have treated the enslaved whites any better? Why doesn't anyone acknowlege that we fought a civil war in this nation to abolish slavery. Just as in Iraq, it is up to the freed to take advantage of those opportunities provided. Where is the dialogue on self responsibility? 50% of prisoners in the U.S. are black BECAUSE of white people? It is not an issue of race as much as it is and always will be, the dominant and those they dominate. You can not have one without the other. The winners always make excuses and the losers always lay blame.

Mr. Anthony A. Capobianco
thanks for asking what seems a reasonable question but i think its not for you to do.
i mean that you merely can't.
james baldwin once stated that its impossible for any black person to forget that he is black because of the inevitable self identification of some as, "white". he meant that it is for no person to solve this by relying on these incredible and kind of silly mass descriptors, class, race, et al...
however, this should be taken all the way down to the individual level and is more often merely ignored. oh well......

After having heard Dr. James Cone talk about the nooses, I ask why main media does not also talk about the nooses. Meanwhile, how can I, a white man, do my part in helping black men and women be assured of as much equal rights as I and all other white men and women have?

I watched Mr. Cone talk with Bill Moyers and was glad I did. One reason was to see Mr. Cone respond to Moyers question as to how acts of apparent racism could appear near where he lived in the North.Moyers seemed to claim acts of racism were
confined to the South but apparently foreign outside of the South. Mr. Cones answer was a bit soft as he gently reminded Moyers that racism exists even outside the South, and perhaps even more so.

I have always seen racism portrayed in the media
as something practiced only by Southern whites, giving the rest of the world, of all races a free pass.Apparently the
only persons guilty off racism are white Southern people.

I also enjoyed hear Mr. Cone exclaim" Nothing is the whole story!"
This is true as the whole story of lynching should have mentioned that a significant percentage of persons lynched in America where white. Once you know this fact you realize lynching was a more complex story, not just race, not just black and white.
Perhaps this fact would encourage more conversations regarding lynching that Mr. Cone would like to see take place, although it might muddy the water concerning the guilt trip some blacks like to lay on whites the way some people like Moyers like to lay white guilt on Southern whites.
Nothing is the whole story. Amen!

I think that there are a number of reasons for the noose. Possibly number one is a kind of expression of how kids torment other kids and look for weaknesses to exploit. A noose it a way to torment someone, to get their goat, make them lose their cool, and intimidate them. So I think that teens may have hit on it to do those things. The second reason, and the reason for the growth and expansion of the noose appearing many places is that there is a certain frustration in the white community with the use of racism as an excuse for the failures of black society. There is a weariness with the exploitation of every so-called racial incident by the leadership of the black community to further their own fame and fortune, and to extort perhaps unearned benefits from overblown offences. The real heroes of the black community are the Bill Cosbys who speak truth to their people, and do no further decieve them into assuming the victim position.

One more comment on tonights program: it is too bad that there is no way to arouse the same passion over the death of a black man who is killed by another black man who is himself patterning himself after his own "gangsta" hero, as a black man who is lynched. If there could arise some of the same strenght of feeling over this horror, then perhaps there would be less tolerance of the gangsta lifestyle and music that preaches such an ugly gospel. These days the young black men are being killed by other young black men, and the numbers are huge compared to the numbers that were lynched years ago.

It puzzled me that the song "Strange Fruit" which was mentioned several times in the beginning of the interview with James Cone was only referred to by the black singer, Billie Holiday and not by its author, a white Jewish school teacher from New York, Abel Meerepol, who viscerally felt the injustice of others and was compelled to write about it. Understanding between races can only be complete when goodness is acknowledged by both sides. Dr. Cone continues to bifurcate America by making pain and suffering uniquely a black experience. One can be proud of one's heritage without doing it at the expense of others.If he can't move on beyond "blackness" and ghettos, then where is his "hope?"

bill moyers stops being fun.
where is god to the blacks who suffered under the oppressions of the age which results in lynching(paraphrase)?
okay, bill.
if god is love(false), love is an emotion experienced by an individual person in the presence or recognition of a supreme or fundamental value, which is individual and indivisible(unshareable), then love is not to be considered as "present" in any form as it is necessarily intangible.
but, love is not god.
nor is the "god" to which you refer an entity except in describing the totality of existence. in fact, the word/symbol of god is an almost direct transliteration of the greco/african word/symbol "deity" which means, a discernible principle of interaction between objects.
this modern conversational notion, that god is a "very large man", is absurd at every level and in every and all ways. please stop this nonsense about "god". god is the linguistic term which refers to the existant item of reality. not more and never less. god is therefore omnipresent. fools have too often decided to deify their fathers and other authorities, and the notion that god is some superheroic "person" is at best, and worst, the hope that, one day, they too will suffer the inhuman indignity of being supremely responsible for the sins of comission and otherwise of any and all entities in reality.
such moronic idiocies are too often tolerated by the rational and it is past time in my lifetime to dispense with entertaining the idea that solipsistic and specious irrationality, concerning reality, should be left unresponded to when proposed by those who have previously garnered and deserved respect for exercising reason. things change and all too often so does a rational capacity. has this happened to mr. moyers? i think not, but this kind of stupidity cannot continue unchallenged.
sometimes i think the pbs ad which sports the tune "...with my own two hands"
means to use my own two hands to throttle the life out of the overwhelmingy stupid who have access to the public airwaves, but that's usually only when i am particularly cranky.....
donald vance

Hi Bill,
Within the last two months there was a noose placed at a construction site in the area of the jobsite where a black gentleman was working. This construction site was in the suburbs of Pittsburgh (Allegheny County). With the proliferation of these nooses nationwide, it almost seems as if it's part of an organized effort. I just wanted folks to know that it happened here, too. Thanks for the forum, Don Griffith

Brother Cone seems to have forgotten that the meaning of the cross was first discovered by St Paul on the road to Damascus. He did a pretty good job of promoting it, too, but I don't recall that that he divided people by race. Cone also seems to have forgotten that many slavers bought their slaves from other Africans who had already enslaved them, and the fact that more black people in the US and in Africa, even now, are terrorized by other blacks than by anyone else. Last, the attitude about terror that he attaches specifically to Americans has been the same in every primitive society, as for instance, in the Ancien Regime as described by Foucault. It is ironic that a man of the cloth should provoke such outrage that people would want to lynch him, but perhaps that is the failing of evangelicals. It wasn't Martin Luther King's way though.

An important new work on this subject is Dr. Sherilynn Ifill's book "On The Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the Twenty-First Century", February, 2007,from Beacon Press, Boston.

I appreciate that you shared Dr. Cone's lecture. It was inspiring and incisive. I seriously doubt, though, that many people will take the time to absorb it.

Keep up the great work!


The noose is a cowardly and desperate message. The sender of the message is trying to fill and exorsize a desire to feel more powerfull and superior to someone. This senders prejudices are not limited to race.

If little children know the meaning of the noose, that knowledge can only come from the words and actions of the adults around them. My seven-year-old daughter was completely mystified the other day by a message etched into a pole next to the bench on which we sat on the square in Oxford, Mississippi. It was a beautiful fall afternoon, and we were taking a few minutes to just sit and watch the passing scene. Out of nowhere, my daughter noticed the message, and as she sounded out words she had never seen or heard before, said to me, "Mama, what does 'Hang all n----rs' mean?" She knew from my reaction that it was something very bad and was worried she had done something wrong in reading the message aloud. I tried my best to answer her questions, but it was almost too much for her to process: a derogatory term she'd never heard, though she's lived in Mississippi her whole life; the fact that someone would write something so incredibly hateful (a swastika was etched below the words); and the knowledge that historically this is something that has been done to people just because of their skin color. We went inside the restaurant housed in the building of which the pole was a part, and by chance the first person we encountered was an African-American waiter. My daughter wanted to show him the pole, so the hateful message could be removed, but she was very worried about how reading those words would make him feel. As a mother, it pained me greatly to see my child exposed to a very ugly side of life in America, but I was heartened by her complete rejection of this expression of hatred, her determination to do something about it, and her compassion and empathy for those targeted by it. Maybe little children learn the meaning of the noose, but they don't have to accept it.

The message is "Be afraid! ... Keep in your place or this will go around your neck."

It has been the American Terrorist's message for centuries.

I work with teenagers of all races. They know the meaning of the noose and the burning cross - it is burned into our collective unconscious. Even the little children know.

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