Nel's New Day

January 19, 2015

How Some People Commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr.

Filed under: Racism — trp2011 @ 10:17 PM
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Forty-four years after his death, Martin Luther King, Jr. is commemorated by a federal holiday, despite past legislators’ objections. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) was one of those objectors: he voted twice against celebrating King in Louisiana. Three Southern states have diluted their dismay at the MLK Day by celebrating Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s birthday on the same day. Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi use the same day to honor Lee.

The Ku Klux Klan scattered leaflets in the Manchester neighborhood of Pittsburgh (PA) with King’s mug shot from an arrest under the name “Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.” Similar ones appeared in Chester (VA), and Sam Green, who claims to be the Great Titan of the Richmond area, asked “why people would be upset about the truth.” KKK Imperial Wizard Chris Barker said about the flyers in Georgia, “We told our members to go out and pretty much counteract Martin Luther King’s birthday, who was a known communist–and we decided to put out Klan literature.”

The DeKalb County (AL) Superintendent Hugh Taylor banned a school history club from its collective attendance at a viewing of Selma because of “racial profanity.” The film features such icons as Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, Hosea Williams, and James Bevel as they marched from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 to fight for voting rights in the Jim Crow South. Rev. James Stanton, the black parents of a senior in the history club, spoke out against the white school official’s decision asking whether the school wants to keep students from knowing about the march. “I don’t believe it is just about the profanity,” he said. Stanton remembers watching Saving Private Ryan in that same school. That movie has an R rating for “battleground chatter” (aka frequent four-letter words) and the use of “Krauts” for Germans. Selma is rated P-13.

In other parts of the country, over 285,000 students in 24 cities saw the movie, thanks to the $2.1 million raised by a group called Selma for Students.

The Tea Party invited Dr. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon and possible African-American GOP presidential candidate, to celebrate the legacy of MLK on King’s birthday and the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act, mostly overturned by the Supreme Court. A caller responded to Carson’s appearance on the Fox network:

“You embody what MLK wanted for the black community. If you run for president, I’ll spread the word for people to vote for you.”

Carson told the caller not to worry about the negative impact of President Obama’s actions as the first black president because he was “half-white.”

President Obama is biracial, but he is perceived as black because of his appearance. Throughout his presidency, Barack Obama has been declared black, especially by all his racist haters.

Carson has a history of ignorant statements, many about the Affordable Care Act which benefits the blacks:

 “ObamaCare is the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. In a way, it is slavery, because it is making all of us subservient to the government.”

“[The ACA is worse than the 9/11 terrorists attacks] because 9/11 is an isolated incident. Things that are isolated issues as opposed to things that fundamentally change the United Sates of America and shift power from the people to the government.”

“I think what’s happening with the veterans [dying] is a gift from God to show us what happens when you take layers and layers of bureaucracy and place them between the patients and the health care provider.”

He also compared same-sex marriage to bestiality and pedophilia and tried to spread a rumor that President Obama would continue to be president by calling off the 2016 election through declaring martial law. According to Carson, the Advanced Placement history curriculum will cause students who learn about civil disobedience to join ISIL. He also wants to have the citizenship of non-citizens revoked if they are caught in voter fraud, a statement so ignorant that it was removed from his WND column. [For a taste of how wacko WND is, check out their website.]

The conservative National Center for Public Policy Research’s Project 21 black leadership network bends King’s words and intentions:

“One of Dr. King’s most important contributions was that he exhorted Americans to resist the gravitational pull of racial identity and famously challenged us all to value the content of character above skin color. Some contemporary ‘race leaders’ seek to limit Dr. King’s legacy by ghettoizing his impact and identifying him as a black leader.”– Joe R. Hicks

“Many of the so-called and self-appointed leaders of the racial grievance industry are guilty of bastardizing his mission. They use his legacy as an instrument to contribute to racial hostility under the false guise of racial justice.”– Derryck Green

Meanwhile, legislators refuse to return voting rights to everyone after the Supreme Court overturned the law that would help give these constitutional rights to all eligible people. Conservatives oppose affirmative-action laws using the false justification that King called for an end to “playing the race card.” Their belief is that a black student scoring 1820 on the SAT shouldn’t be admitted to UCLA over a white student who scored 1840.

As King wrote in Why We Can’t Wait: 

Whenever the issue of compensatory treatment for the Negro is raised, some of our friends recoil in horror. The Negro should be granted equality, they agree; but he should ask nothing more. On the surface, this appears reasonable, but it is not realistic… A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for the Negro.”

Preferential treatment for blacks in the 21st century means that blacks can sometimes be beaten and killed with more impunity than whites. It means that they can be turned down for jobs or refused housing with little justification. At the same time, people celebrate MLK Day and the man for which it is named without any anger about the rampant prejudice throughout the nation.

Almost 50 years after his death, the United States has sanitized King and his mission against injustices, turning him into a nice black man who quietly marched and gave eloquent speeches. Republicans claim that King is really one of them, and people who want unlimited gun ownership talk about King owning a gun. They forget that Southern Democrats during much of the 20th century blocked racial progress, and King decided not to keep the gun.

Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted a guaranteed minimum income for all people in the United States, connected to the median household income of the time. He wanted the United States out of Vietnam and called for reparations to blacks for their past centuries of mistreatment. He campaigned for class equality by addressing poverty, slums, housing segregation, and bank lending discrimination through a “radical redistribution of economic and political power.” A strong ally of labor unions, he was killed in Memphis where he was supporting a sanitation workers’ strike.

In the years before King’s murder, 63 percent of people in the U.S. had an unfavorable opinion of him. Now 94 percent of the population approve of him because he isn’t here to fight for his beliefs. If he were alive, he would be standing with poorly paid workers and against the NRA and bank abuse. He would call for taking money from the military to put into infrastructure, education, health care, and especially jobs. He would march with immigrants for immigration reform and with activists to end racial profiling, mass incarceration of youth, and the killing of young black men by police.

As a young person, King said, “A society based on making all the money you can and ignoring people’s needs is wrong.” He recognized that a purpose of racial segregation was to oppress working-class whites by letting them feel superior to blacks. He wrote, “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” He called America the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” He’s still right.

August 28, 2013

Where Is the ‘Dream’?

Fifty years ago today, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I have a dream” speech at the March on Washington. Congress passed the Civil Rights Act passed the year after King’s speech and followed that with the Voting Rights Act. The United States, however, has failed to address the March’s goals for economic opportunity and equality, ten demands in civil rights legislation, public school desegregation, voting rights, job training, and an increased minimum wage.

  • Congressional comprehensive and effective civil rights legislation without compromise or filibuster-to guarantee all Americans access to all public accommodations, decent housing, adequate and integrated education, and the right to vote.
  • Withholding of federal funds from all programs in which discrimination exists.
  • Desegregation of all school districts in 1963.
  • Enforcement of the fourteenth Amendment, reducing Congressional representation of states where citizens are disfranchised.
  • A new Executive Order banning discrimination in all housing supported by federal funds.
  • Authority for the Attorney General to institute injunctive suits when any constitutional right is violated.
  • A massive federal program to train and place all unemployed workers–Negro and white–on meaningful and dignified jobs at decent wages.
  • A national minimum wage act that· will give all Americans a decent standard of living.
  • A broadened Fair Labor Standards Act to include all areas of employment which are presently excluded.
  • A federal Fair Employment Practices Act barring discrimination by federal, state, and municipal governments, and by employers, contractors, employment agencies, and trade unions.

During the 15 years after the 1963 March on Washington, conditions for blacks in the United States vastly improved, and legislation benefitted other groups—women, poor whites, other communities of color, people with disabilities, and senior citizens. Poverty rates dropped along with improvement in education, employment, and democratic participation. Congress and the president worked together to solve national problems.

Yet in two cases during the 1970s, the Supreme Court limited mandatory school-desegregation plans and declared that education is not a fundamental right. After that SCOTUS put limits on the ability of school districts to voluntarily create integration plans. Other decisions have put barriers in the way of people to take violations of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to court.

Ronald Reagan’s election as president in 1980 saw the growth of the Heritage Foundation, created after Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) lost the 1964 election to Lyndon B. Johnson, and Reagan moved Goldwater’s supporters into federal agencies and onto federal benches. The Federalist Society grew, creating a network of conservative lawyers who provided legal arguments to defeat social justice. Conservative media outlets like Fox News began to use their falsehoods to influence less knowledgeable people.

Fox contributor Laura Ingraham displayed a prime example of conservative media when she culminated her hateful responses to the anniversary of the March on Washington with a clip of the speech given 50 years ago by civil rights pioneer Rep. John Lewis (R-GA) and interrupted the speech with the sound of a gunshot and then long silence.  Following a commercial break, conservative columnist Pat Buchanan claimed that Lewis, Rev. Al Sharpton and other speakers at Saturday’s event were “part of a great racket.” He said, “What will these folks do, quite frankly, if they had to get up and admit we’ve got more opportunities than any large group of black folks anywhere on Earth today and our community is not making the most of it?”

Fifty years later, partisan divides gridlock the federal government, the GOP is setting back efforts to help the poor, unemployment and the need for jobs are elevated, and union-busting has caused loss of income for everyone except the U.S. elite.

Fifty years later people still carry signs asking for “Voting Rights,” “Jobs for All,” and “Decent Housing.” People still protest the vigilante killing of an unarmed black teenager in the South and his killer’s acquittal. People still denounce racial profiling in the country’s largest city.

Voting: Seven Southern states passed or implemented voter suppression laws in the two months since the Supreme Court gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act. This decision followed a general election in which blacks waited twice as long to vote, on average, as whites. One in 13 blacks (2.2 million people) cannot vote because of felon disenfranchisement laws—four times higher than the rest of the population.

Jobs: Although the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission began functioning two years after the March, employers still prefer white workers, according to Algernon Austin, director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy. The unemployment rate for blacks (12.6 percent) is almost twice as that for whites (6.6 percent), about the same ratio as in 1963. The average household income for blacks ($32,068) is far below that of white families ($54,620) and declined by 15 percent from 2000 to 2010.

Job Training: The $38.6 billion in 2013 dollars budgeted in 1978 shrank to $8 billion in 2013 dollars by 2007. Congress consistently fails to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, the nation’s largest job-training program, for the past 15 years. Legislation also excludes important methods to improve services such as developing skilled workers through education and training.

School Desegregation:  Because of housing patterns, schools are segregated at the same rates as the late 1960s, according to Andrew Rotherham, co-founder of the education think tank Bellwether Education Partners. Three-fourths of all black students attend schools that are majority nonwhite.

Minimum Wage:  The value of the current minimum wage is below that in 1964, yet conservatives ridicule fast-food workers who have joined to fight for decent wages. At the time of the 1963 March, the minimum wage of $1.25 was equivalent to $9.25 today–$2 higher than the current minimum of $7.25. March organizers demanded $2 per hour, in today’s dollars more than $14.80, but by the time the minimum was raised to that level 11 years after the March, inflation had eaten up any advantage. ALEC, the corporate-controlled organization that hands out bills to GOP legislators, opposes any increase in minimum wages, calls for a full repeal of minimum wages, and works to prevent local efforts to enact living wage requirements. Meanwhile, fast-food and other low-wage workers are striking against low pay in Chicago, New York City, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Kansas City, Seattle, Los Angeles, Raleigh, Atlanta, Houston, and Oakland.

Justice: While conservatives fight to load the bench with judges opposed to equal rights, the number of judicial vacancies has grown to emergency levels. There are not enough judges to hear cases on the country’s dockets.

Racism: Although all restaurants must now serve blacks, a group of 25 blacks were told to leave the Wild Wing Café in South Carolina after peacefully waiting for two hours to be seated. One white patron felt “threatened. This is just one of millions of racist acts in the U.S.

At last weekend’s rally at the Lincoln Memorial, the main themes were the same as 50 years ago—voter suppression, “stand your ground” laws, stop-and-frisk, and the question of jobs and union-busting. Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of the slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers, talked about the “stand your ground” laws. She said, “We can think of ‘standing your ground’ in the negative. But I ask you today to flip that coin. Stand your ground in terms of fighting for justice and equality!”  One poster showed a picture of Rosa Parks who stood her ground by refusing to give up her seat on a bus.

Before he was killed in on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., had these comments about the Republican party. The GOP hasn’t changed since that time.

The 1964 Republican National Convention: “The Republican Party geared its appeal and program to racism, reaction, and extremism.”

Sen. Barry Goldwater (GOP 1964 presidential candidate):  “While not himself a racist, Mr. Goldwater articulated a philosophy which gave aid and comfort to the racist. His candidacy and philosophy would serve as an umbrella under which extremists of all stripes would stand.”

Ronald Reagan: “When a Hollywood performer, lacking distinction even as an actor can become a leading war hawk candidate for the Presidency, only the irrationalities induced by a war psychosis can explain such a melancholy turn of events.”

The March on Washington was about jobs and freedom, and Congress is avoiding any discussion about both. The country needs to fight back against those who refuse to recognize the importance of economic equality and who define freedom as “freedom to oppress others.”

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