We are now past the one-year anniversary of the insurrectionist assault on this Nations’ Capitol, January 6, 2021. We have, I hope, seen some of the central figures who participated, and more importantly, helped to plan the attack, made to testify before the Congressional Committee. It is my hope that more of them are arrested, tried and sentenced to prison. What they attempted was nothing short of treason. A real-time coup de’tat played out in our living room.
What we have had to come to understand is how perilously close the government of the United States was to being overthrown, by thousands of her own citizens. Not by Russians. Not by China. Not by anyone other than a segment of this society that has been convinced is aggrieved. While you scratch your head in trying to come to grips with that last statement; how people of privilege in this nation can feel like their rights have been infringed upon, while doing all that they can to limit the rights of the Black and Brown and immigrants in this Nation, we must NEVER lose sight that this is not new. Think Tulsa 1921. Think Charlottesville 2017.
I recently listened to a recording by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from a speech he gave in 1962 at a dinner organized by New York’s Civil War Centennial Commission. Dr. King shared a couple of points that are still at the crux of America’s racial animus today. It goes as follows:
“Our nation has experienced a ceaseless rebellion against the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Supreme Court by one region. The development of the nation to the West was complicated and hindered by the slave power, and only the holocaust of war settled the character and direction of our growth. But the rebellion against equality continued into the second half of the19th century and into the 20th century, diminishing the authority of the federal government and corroding its authority.
It has contaminated every institution in our society. Today that single region of our country still holds a veto power over the majority of the nation, nullifying basic constitutional rights, and in the exercise of it’s illegal conduct, retarding our growth. The south, in walling itself off from the application of laws and judicial decrees behind an iron curtain of defiance, becomes a law unto itself.”
Dr. King reminded the nation, in this 1962 speech, a year before the 1963 March on Washington, that America was yet a divided Nation. He reminded us that the look-the-other-way southern strategy was choking America’s growth; both racially and economically. He knew that the refusal of those in power to adequately address and, if necessary, punish those who would resist the Civil rights of Blacks in the 1960s, to the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next…would lead our nation into an abyss.
As this is an election year, though not for the President, it is nonetheless even more critical that we continue to make our voices, and our presence heard. The whitelash coming from the states of Georgia, Michigan, and Texas is proof that Dr. King’s assessments were accurate. Those who yet feel the election of 2020 was “rigged, stolen or fixed” will do anything to assure that the next election goes the way that they would prefer. To think that this rejection of the very foundation of a democratic society, where one person equals one vote, would be relevant in the 21st century, shows the depth and breadth of racism in America.
We are truly, in my opinion, teetering on the precipice of peril. A time in this yet-to-be-united nation that will determine whether the experiment of democracy will prevail or the emergence and acceptance of authoritarian fascism. Donald Trump was an imbecile and is only the preview of what can come afterward, should the Congress, Department of Justice and Supreme Court not do what it is mandated to do; Uphold the Constitution and its Amendments.
To think that we have to pass a John Lewis voting rights act…is preposterous. Yet, here we are.
When you get a few minutes this month, go online and listen to some of Dr. King’s speeches. Especially the one that I alluded to in this article. You will likely be amazed at how little has changed in 60 years. This is our time to build a future that ensures our children won’t have to ask for the right to vote…it will be written into permanent law. This is OUR TIME!
Power to the People!