The 50 Year Anniversary of the March on Washington Was One Big Burlesque Show
Yesterday Americans focused their collective attention on the 50 year anniversary of Dr. King’s March on Washington. Although much of the fixation yesterday was on the historical relevancy of the first Black president delivering the keynote commemoration address, if you look closely at the event and the key players, it’s apparent that yesterday was nothing more than grandstanding for the cameras. Let’s list a few of the most outrageous aspects of the commemoration, both the omissions and transgressions:
- As The Guardian‘s Gary Younge noted, veteran civil rights icon Julian Bond had his microphone turned off after speaking only two minutes, while Holder, who has done nothing to end the NYPD’s unconstitutional ‘Stop and Frisk’ policy, was allowed 30 minutes to speak on Saturday.
- Rep. John Lewis is often touted as the only living speaker from the March on Washington. Technically, he’s not. Another civil rights pioneer spoke on that fateful day in 1963, but was only allowed to say one word, “hello”, before her microphone was taken from her. Gloria Richardson is 91 years old, and, and judging from her Democracy Now interview, she’s still as sharp as ever. But during her interview, even she chuckled at the notion of being invited to the 50 year anniversary of the March on Washington.
- Former President Bill Clinton, the architect of welfare reform, and the man who set the stage for the Great Recession by deregulating the banks, told all of us to stop complaining and get to work. The irony here is that had it not been for Mr. Clinton, there wouldn’t be so much work left to be do. We’re still cleaning up his mess.
When Clinton spoke of the need for folks to stop complaining, he was putting the onus on us, without admitting that politicians like him share an enormous part of the burden for the political quagmire in this country. Politicians like Clinton and Obama CREATE apathy among liberals and progressives with their inevitable betrayal of our values, then complain about it.
- Dr. Bernice King, daughter of the man who once said the “bombs dropped in Vietnam explode at home”, shouted “Let freedom ring in Syria.” How should freedom ring in Syria Bernice King? With cruise missiles? Care to clarify?
- The Dream Defenders, those courageous young people who staged a sit-in at the Florida state capitol to fight Stand Your Ground, had no substantive role in the commemoration, at least not from what I could tell.
- And lastly, here’s the first Black president, talking down to Black people again:
“And then, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that during the course of 50 years, there were times when some of us, claiming to push for change, lost our way. The anguish of assassinations set off self-defeating riots.
Legitimate grievances against police brutality tipped into excuse- making for criminal behavior. Racial politics could c*t both ways as the transformative message of unity and brotherhood was d*****d out by the language of recrimination. And what had once been a call for equality of opportunity, the chance for all Americans to work hard and get ahead was too often framed as a mere desire for government support, as if we had no agency in our own liberation, as if poverty was an excuse for not raising your child and the bigotry of others was reason to give up on yourself. All of that history is how progress stalled. That’s how hope was diverted. It’s how our country remained divided.”
In between all that, Al Sharpton was prancing around like a proud peacock, even though the only thing he’s done is act as Obama’s official protector, insulating Obama from criticism from Black community. It seemed that yesterday, the baton was passed from Dr. King, a man unafraid of speaking truth to power, to a Al Sharpton, a man who will do anything to maintain his proximity to power.
How did we go from King to Sharpton? How did we allow Obama to heap the anti-war King with praise, knowing full well that Obama is undoubtedly preparing a military strike on Syria? All I can say is I hope you folks are all proud of yourselves. For my part, I’ve never been more pessimistic about the plight of Black America, but hey, at least you all got to spend your Black dollar on white air planes and lodgings. That makes it all worth it right?
Yvette Carnell is a former Capitol Hill and campaign staffer turned writer. She is currently an editor and contributor to Your Black World and Founder ofBreakingBrown. You can reach Yvette via Twitter @YvetteDC or on Facebook.