Missiles into Syria on Dr. King's Day! President Obama, You Cannot be Serious!

Dear Mr. President.

I know you're a busy man, busier than usual, because you are preparing on this auspicious day, to step onto the foot path of the Drum Major for peace, Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, on this the 50th anniversary of perhaps his greatest day. I understand that you will be joined by a host of celebrities and important people including two past presidents, Clinton and Carter, and I'm also hearing today that Oprah Winfrey will also take part in today's celebration among others.

Let me be blunt, Mr. President, I have a problem with today's commemoration. My problem being that everything scheduled to take place today could have and should have taken place this past Saturday (August 24th) when the people could have attended and taken part. The first march was for the people. 50 years later what we have is a gathering for us, talking about jobs and economic freedom, which we still don't have, despite your promises, followed by a gathering of the glitterati, 4 days later on the exact date of the first march. Why two, celebrations separate and definitely not equal in place of the inclusive demonstrations orchestrated back in the day? Leaders bent over backward in order to show a united front, at least for that day and they pulled it off magnificently.

The excuse that I was given was that today August 28th is the exact date of the MLK march, so it was important to be historically and completely correct. To which I say bull. We live in a country that has changed the dates on every single holiday and national commemoration with the exception of the 4th of July and Christmas, for the sole purpose of giving people 3 day holiday weekends. It wasn't always like that. When I was in school, we celebrated Lincoln on his birthday. The same with Washington and even Dr. King. Now there is President's day, two for the price of one, and never on February 12th (Lincoln)or the 22nd (Washington).

I suspect politics is the main reason behind the scripted segregation. Politics and egos and for those reasons, we the people are once again left twisting in the wind. Some of us have long been tired of the symbolism of equality rather than the real deal. We refuse to sing another verse of “we shall overcome.” The passions kindled 50 years ago on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial are now nothing more than cinders and ash.

Having a Black man in the White House, Mr. President, has never been enough. It was a start, we thought, to fulfillment of Dr. King's dream as spelled out all those years ago. However I guess nobody was really listening were they.

As you prepare to stand in for Dr. King and to talk about peace, equality, freedom and justice for we the people, the media is reporting that you are contemplating “limited retaliatory intervention” in Syria because their president reportedly gassed his innocent citizens while they slept.

You have said that a gas attack is where America draws the line in the sand. The NeoCons immediately started sabre rattling, beating on their shields, strapping on their boots ready to go to jump into another unending and senseless conflagration.

Mr. President you were elected President because we the people wanted change. We wanted an end to unending warfare where anonymous death rains down on faceless innocents. Based on your words and promises, the world awarded you the Nobel Peace Prize,  in hindsight very premature to say the least. In an effort to get out of Afghanistan, we have a drone war of your making. Now your regime is talking “ Limited Retaliatory Intervention' which is just another name for Revenge, and for what. The gas didn't kill over here. It killed in the midst of a civil war and we don't have a dog in this fight. The American people are tired, Mr. President.

We chose you to break the cycle. Someone, and I fear it is you, must stand up to the NeoCons both within and outside your administration. If our allies want to go, then let them go, they are not strangers to imperialism having created the imperialistic prototype a long long time ago. That's exactly why our country exists today. We can't nor are we obligated to continue to make the same mistakes over and over and over.

Today, as you stand in the place of Dr. Martin Luther King, a man who died violently while counseling others in nonviolence, there is no rationalization that you can dream up, that will convince me that the right thing to do is to send cruise missiles into the heart of yet another Middle Eastern country. Dr. King was vocally against the war in Vietnam ( another fruitless exercise in limited retaliatory intervention), and he would have been equally vocal against supporting any administration, including yours, so ready and willing to strike out when we're not even sure as a country, who the enemy really is.

The enemy is us, Mr. President. We need to heal ourselves before we attempt to heal others. Striking Syria is wrong and no way to remember Dr. King on his day.

Respectfully yours,


50th Anniversary March is History-Now What?

Been working all day trying to come up with a word to describe how I feel, now that The People's March honoring Dr. King and his “I have a dream” speech is done. I've come up with several actually. However the one that sticks out is “empty.” 

It's done, we marched, we shouted, we sang, we cried, we vented, some of us shared our memories of the first march, many of whom, like me, were alive, but too young to take part. Others who took part, wanted and desperately needed to recapture the moment. We needed to feel the energy. For whatever reason, we were compelled to be there. We needed to believe we were making a difference, again, and that people were listening to us, and that great things such as the 1964 Civil Rights Act were just around the corner, maybe this time signed by a Black President. That would truly be history and fulfillment of the dream as well as a direct answer to those determined to resurrect Jim Crow and nullify the rights of all minorities once again.

Instead we were met with massive yet lackadaisical security, good in some areas (snipers on the roof), not so good in others. None of it was people friendly. For instance, can someone tell me the purpose of shutting down the Martin Luther King Memorial before the march. Why? Don't the people have the right to gaze at the people's pastor? The people were made to stay far away, from the MLK statue and the Lincoln Memorial for that matter, reduced to watching massive TV screens erected to make the small figures of lesser men and women addressing the crowd look bigger. Everything the people faced in the park was the antithesis of what Dr. King stood for during his lifetime. The iron gated crowd barriers enforcing a metaphorical segregation, erected to control a population desperately hungry for change, but not allowed by law to participate. The march itself a hollow shadow, filled with empty symbolism. No passion, no feeling. Some wanted to sing “We shall overcome” others, and there were many, myself included who never want to hear that song sung again. Many feel that “Fight the Power” is a more appropriate 21st Century anthem. But regardless of what we sing, we ain't there yet and it was painfully obvious on Saturday.

We the people are at a crossroads. The giants who led us are passing on, while those who would replace them can't measure up, being more content to nurture their “look” rather than actually get down and dirty into the trenches of real leadership. It's easy to talk up a commemorative march from the bully pulpit of a cable television network, but it's another thing altogether to walk in the shoes of Dr. King or Reverend Shuttlesworth, or Reverend Abernathy, or Fanny Lou Hamer or Ella Baker or Bayard Rustin or Harry Belafonte or Charleton Heston, James Baldwin or Marlon Brando. (Denzel Washington did Emcee part of the show.)

There were no Kings or Queens on stage this day. Maybe that will come with the scheduled commemoration on Wednesday with no less than four living American Presidents in attendance. Instead of a people's march, it will be the official commemoration. Church bells are set to ring at 3pm, the time Dr. King began to speak so long ago and when President is set to begin his remarks. Maybe the movie stars and other celebrities who couldn't make it on the people's weekend will make a charity appearance to stand with Barack Obama our first avowed Black President.

I just wonder if any of the people, Dr. King's people, the now grown up little boys and little girls will be there to hear him talk.


The 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington-Segregation Then, Segregation Now, Segregation Forever

                          "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation
                                where they will not be judged by the color of their skin,
                             but by the content of their character." -
Martin Luther King

It's disconcerting to me to juxtapose the words of Martin Luther King with a paraphrase of the words uttered by segregationist George W. Wallace. But this is the way my mind works when thinking back over the 50 years since the first March on Washington led by Dr. King back in 1963 and the upcoming events to mark the occasion this weekend.

I was too young, being only 13 years old, to take part in the first march, but I watched the grainy black and white images of that massive crowd on the 6 o'clock news with the same intent that I watched the shows my parents allowed me to watch, back in the day, and time passed. Given the chance, I vowed to go and take part. Make my voice heard.

50 years. Just passed my 63rd birthday and I'm packing for DC. Going to the Anniversary March. Going to stand in front of the Lincoln Memorial with other like-minded people and remember the words of Dr. King. I am geeked about this trip because it's been a long time coming, but instead of total elation, my heart is heavy thinking about it.

I have a dream...”

I think many of us figured the dream would be halfway realized by now, 50 years after the fact. But all you gotta do is to look at the upcoming festivities to understand that Dr. King's ideas are still blowing in the wind.

There is the March on Saturday, August 24th I will call it The people's march. It is expected to be the biggest event since it's on Saturday and most people have the time, and don't have to work. It's a good day to teach history to the kids. The Park police are planning for about 150,000 people, about half of what originally turned out back in the day.

Dr. King actually delivered his speech on August 28th, so some other people and groups have organized a march on exactly the same day, complete with church bells ringing at 3pm and a speech from President Barack Obama, standing in for Dr. King. Obama's speech is supposed to be a grand thing, designed to move us forward as a nation toward the goals espoused by Dr. King back in the day. The main problem with the August 28th event is that it falls on a Wednesday, in the middle of the work week, not exactly designed to be people friendly, is it. I was initially confused by the two different dates with both events calling themselves the Anniversary of the March on Washington. And I'm sure that confusion still exists for others, as well.

Back on Saturday, the 24th, Black conservatives are going to hold their own thing, a breakfast, put together by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. It is a sit down affair, very dignified, designed to do....well I'm not sure what it is designed to do, since only politicians and their supporters have been invited to participate. People, Dr. King's people, need not apply, it seems.

Here is my problem...

Why three separate events when Dr. King was all about inclusion and equality? Why is Al Sharpton and his National Action Network, joined by the NAACP and a host of other groups marching on Saturday, totally ignoring the group putting together the march on Wednesday that features the first Black President of the United States?

And what better way for the GOP to convince some of us that they really are about inclusion then by taking part in either one of the other affairs?

Segregation then, segregation now, segregation forever, it seems...

Seems like anyone really wanting to honor Dr. King would have had one big people friendly affair in the spirit of the original march.

I have a dream....”

Congressman John Lewis who also addressed the crowd 50 years ago as president of SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee said this about Dr. King;

"Dr. King had the power, the ability, and the capacity to transform those steps on the Lincoln Memorial into a monumental area that will forever be recognized. By speaking the way he did, he educated, he inspired, he informed not just the people there, but people throughout America and unborn generations."

I wish that the folks in charge could have understood this and planned their events with the people in mind rather than their own agenda at the fore front. It would have shown that the words spoken by Dr. King that day are honored in spirit, if not in daily practice.

why can't we all just get along?”

What Rodney King said. What Dr. King meant. What will need to happen if we are all to survive.

I have a dream...”

Me too...