Monday, September 12, 2011

We Made a Liar of MLK

The country is very excited about the new MLK Memorial on the National Mall. I am ashamed. I am ashamed of what we have allowed to become of his legacy, while paying homage to his image. The "I Have a Dream Speech" is epic; but it's not my favorite King speech. One of my favorite speeches is his "Give Us the Ballot Speech" given on 17 May 1957 in Washington, D.C., in which King makes the United States this promise:

"Give us the ballot, and we will fill our legislative halls with men of goodwill and send to the sacred halls of Congress men who will not sign a "Southern Manifesto" because of their devotion to the manifesto of justice.

Give us the ballot, and we will place judges on the benches of the South who will do justly and love mercy, and we will place at the head of the southern states governors who, have felt not only the tang of the human, but the glow of the Divine."

Seven years later we were given the ballot; and more and more, on Election Day we stay at home. We did come out in record numbers to support now President Obama. But then, we as a community stayed home during the next election in large and dissappointing numbers. We failed to send the president the support he needed to get done in Washington what the middle class and the poor needed to make agressive progress. We lived up, in some measure, to the dream but failed to live up to the promise Martin Luther King, Jr. made back in 1957.

We were given the vote and then we failed to send men and women to congress of goodwill, allowing the election of narrow minded obstructionists. We placed judges on benches who hold corporations in higher esteem than justice or mercy. While we sat out the mid-term elections, governors were elected to office who have only felt the swelling of their own hubris; and are wholly unfamiliar with either humanity or the Divine.

It is time to stop living the dream and start keeping the promise.

Voter I.D. Bill

The conservative contingent of the NC Legislature has passed a Voter I.D. Bill that would require voters to show a state-issued photo identification card in order to cast a vote. That is a poll tax.

It's a poll tax because it requires anyone who votes to go to the NC Department of Motor Vehicles and purchase an identification card. If one has to spend money to vote then that is a fee, an enfranchisement tarriff, surcharge on the liberty of citizenship, a poll tax, an assault on the Voting Rights Act of 1964.

The Voting Rights Act of 1964 established extensive federal oversight of elections administration, providing that states with a history of discriminatory voting practices could not implement any change affecting voting without first obtaining the approval of the Department of Justice.

Conservatives want to take "their country back". Back to a time when old white men of means controlled the government. The way to do that is to disenfranchise those who would most benefit from a progressive movement, the poor. To force college students to return to their home states to vote. To create a hardship on the elderly and the disabled who benefit from government programs.

Please join and/or support the NAACP as we strive to seek to appeal this egregious law in the courts. It takes money to pay lawyers, and it takes time to protest. I implore you to contribute either or both as liberally as a love of liberty will permit.

I'm Back

I'd like to apologize to folks who were readers. I stopped posting because my friends and family who claimed to like my writing, weren't reading my blog. So I thought, what's the point? The point is I have something to say.

My 94 year old Aunt Rosie died two weeks ago yesterday. She use to testify every Sunday she was at church. She started by lining a hymn, either "Put Your Time in, Payday is Coming After while" or "Jesus on the Mainline, Tell Him What You Want." As she approached the last two verses she would stand up and conclude the last verse on her feet. She would then give her testimony. It was always the same testimony every Sunday. I remember my cousins and I would repeat it to each other exchanging lines like folks do with The Color Purple. My favorite line of her testimony was a kind of a warning. "Children we livin in a perilous time, and I pray for folks in the whole round world. I prays for the unconcerned, that they gets concerned."

So this is my comeback, my return to those like-minded individuals who recognize that we live in a perilous time; and that our only hope is that all those who are unconcerned in fact get concerned. It occurs to me now, that Aunt Rosie, sister to my sainted grandmother, wasn't concerned about whether her message was being received. Her responsibility rested in getting that message out. She had something to say. She said it. Lucky for me, and hopefully some others, what she had to say had resonance.

The problem with the world is that the unconcerned are becoming an increasing majority. Maybe they wouldn't be if those of us who have something to say would say it. So this blog is my testimony.