Today marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The president will give a speech this afternoon, one which he admits will not measure up to that given by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And one which many Americans will not witness personally, because it will be given in the middle of an afternoon on a workday. Perhaps it is a function of age, but I can’t help but be a little jaded by some events of the last few days.
I’m not old enough to remember the March on Washington – and the president is a year younger than I am. But I am old enough to have read about it and to have experienced the effects of it, particularly in those five years between the speech and his assassination. King’s picture, along with that of President Kennedy and later, Bobby Kennedy, graced the walls of our home, like they were family. It was years later that I learned about Kennedy’s duplicity in the civil rights movement, and of the heroism of his successor, President Lyndon Johnson. Where, in all of the hubbub surrounding this 50th anniversary, have you heard Johnson’s name mentioned?
I watched some of the speeches from last Saturday’s march. Sorry, but I still have a hard time taking Al Sharpton seriously. Not only that, I kept wondering: where are the white folks who were there 50 years ago? Are Bob Dylan and Joan Baez dead or did I just miss them? (A pretty good read on the music at the 1963 March can be found here.)
In the days leading up to the anniversary, a story broke about a black group being denied service at a restaurant because a white patron felt “threatened.” As I read through the various accounts of the incident, they pretty much all sounded the same. It seems that most folks copied and pasted this article, changed a few words, and passed it off as their own. I kept digging on this story of Michael Brown, aka Mike London, aka Reverend Michael Brown, becoming more suspicious as I went. I finally ran across this account of someone who was there, after coming across a reference on a decidedly racist website that I refuse to link to. Could be this was made up – but it rang true for me. I come from a large family and have no doubt that if we had waited two hours to be seated – not that we would have, mind you – we’d have become loud, too, although sans the n-word. Loud is often mistaken for being obnoxious, and loud, while commonplace, is also threatening to those not familiar with it. Have we reached the point where a)the media accepts all claims of racism as fact and b)it’s OK to claim racism, even if none exists? If so, what in the heck will happen when real acts of racism occur? Will they be ignored?
Wait – don’t answer that.
Our nation’s history on the issue of race – being written every day – is not pretty. But we will never move forwards as long as we are given half-truth’s about it.
OK – rant over.