[nfbmi-talk] Excerpt From "To Man The Barricades"

Fred Wurtzel f.wurtzel at att.net
Sun Feb 26 22:29:26 CST 2012



As I reread "To Man The Barricades" a speech which I first read in the early
'70's just after it was delivered, I was put in mind of some of the recent
traffic on this list.  Dr. Jernigan clearly set the bar for all blind people
and put our obligations to one another in plain English.  Given the nature
of our present situation, there is no excuse for staying on the sidelines
and catcalling every time those of us who actually are trying to make a
difference do something that is objectionable, even though the catcallers
did not lift a finger to help.  Here is what Dr. Jernigan has to say about



Next, I want to say something to those blind persons who are aware of our 

movement and who have had an opportunity to join it but who have not seen 



to do so. In this category I also place those blind persons who are among us

but not really of us, who (technically speaking) hold membership in the 



but are not really part of the movement. The non-Federation and the 

noncommitted blind are a strange phenomenon. Some of them are successful in 



or the professions. I have heard them say, "I really don't need the 

Federation. Of course, if I could do anything to help you people, I would be

glad to


do it, but I am independent. I have made it on my own." I have heard them 



"You really can't expect me to go down to that local meeting of the blind. 

Nobody goes there except a few old people, who sit around and drink coffee 



plan Christmas parties. I am a successful lawyer, or businessman, or judge; 

and I am busy. Besides, they never get anything done. They just talk and 



I have heard them say: "I don't know that I necessarily have anything in 

common with other blind people just because I'm blind. Almost all my friends



sighted. My life is busy with bowling, hiking, reading, or my business or 

profession." I have heard them say: "You people in the Federation are too 



You are always in a fight with somebody, or bickering among yourselves. I am

an individualist and never was much of a joiner."


I have heard some of them say: "I am an employee of a governmental or 

private agency doing work with the blind, and I think it would destroy my 



relationship with my clients if I were to work actively in the Federation. 

Anyway, we all have a common concern, the betterment of blind people; so 



make my contribution by working as a 'professional' in the field. Besides, 

not all blind people agree with you or want to join your organization, and 



a 'professional' I have to represent and work with all blind people."


I have heard them say all of these things, and to such blind persons I say 

this: You are patsies! Not only that but you are also deceiving yourselves 



failing to act in your own best interest. Further, you are profiting from 

the labor and sacrifice, and are riding on the backs, of the blind who have 



the movement and worked to make it possible for you to have what you have. 

Some of you feel superior to many of the blind who belong to the Federation


(especially those who work in the sheltered shops or draw welfare), but your

feelings of superiority are misplaced; for collectively these people have


clothed you and fed you. They have made it possible for you to have such 

equality in society and such opportunity as you now enjoy. Resent what I say



you will, but it is the truth, whether you like it or not and whether you 

admit it or not. It is true for those of you who work in the agencies as 



as for those of you who work in private endeavor.


If you think this movement should be better or that it should be of higher 

caliber, then join us and help make it that way. If you think the local 



or the State conventions are dull or uninspiring, then do your part to make 

them different. Even animals in the jungle have sense enough to hunt in 



The blind ought to be at least as intelligent.


We need you, and we want you as active participants in the movement; but 

until you will join, we must do the best we can without you. We must carry 



on our backs and do your work for you, and we will do it. The fact that we 

say you are patsies does not mean that we resent you. Far from it. You are 



brothers, and we will continue to look upon you as such, regardless of how 

irresponsibly you behave. We are trying to get you to think about the 



of your actions. We are trying to get you to join with us to help make 

things better for other blind people and for yourselves. We are trying to 

get you


to stop being patsies.



Warmest Regards,



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