I never new Frank Sinatra was an anti-Racist.
Recently, I stumbled upon a quote from the man that read:
“We’ve got a hell of a long way to go in this racial situation. As long as most white men think of a Negro first and a man second, we’re in trouble. I don’t know why we can’t grow up.” – Frank Sinatra
I began to research him some more and was pleasantly surprised that Ol’ Blue Eyes was a White-Allie for Black Lives. He credited this to his understanding of being a child of oppressed immigrants, as well as his relationship with the many influential Black Jazz musicians whom he was inspired. Including his close friendship with Sammy Davis Jr that began back in 1941. Notably, he also starred in a short film called “The House I Live In” (1945) which dealt with discrimination against Jews, and in the 21st century this film would be somewhat inspirational for the Documentary by the same name that tackles the War on Drugs and disparate targeting of African-Americans. In 1958, Ebony Magazine would publish Sinatra’s “The Way I Look at Race,” in which he would declare bigotry a disease.
Sinatra of course was not without flaws. Initially a staunch Democrat and ardent backer of FDR and JFK, he later became a supporter of both Nixon and Reagan, two President’s that were disastrous for the Black community in regards to their championing of the modern day Drug War. Not that FDR and JFK weren’t without their racist baggage. FDR was most notably at the helm when the Japanese faced massive internment during WWII. The New Deal architect might be celebrated unanimously today, but his administration also snubbed the great African-American track athlete Jesse Owens from attending the White House in 1936 after his Olympic victories in Nazi Germany. JFK also famously snubbed Sinatra’s friend, Sammy Davis, from attending his 1961 inauguration because the singer was married to a White woman. Sinatra himself was also known to be a hard drinker, a womanizer, and connected to the Mob. However, he remained a staunch Anti-Racist for the duration of his life and penned the following op-ed on 4th of July 1991, titled: “PERSPECTIVE ON THE FOURTH OF JULY : The Haters and Bigots Will Be Judged.”
Going into 2016, we need more White people of influence to step-up in the spirit of Sinatra and clearly acknowledge the importance of BLACK LIVES MATTERING in America. Such vocalization might seem only symbolic, or merely a small step forward, but it’s absolutely necessary if we want to conquer the demons of our past and overturn today’s New Jim Crow, including the failed War on Drugs, the “criminal Injustice system,” and the racist ‘school to prison’ pipeline.
Special thanks to Kevin Alexander Gray for putting me on to Sinatra’s anti-racist Legacy!