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We Must Act

September 14, 2011

“We here today are only the first wave. When we leave, it will be to carry the civil rights revolution home with us into every nook and cranny of the land, and we shall return again and again to Washington in very growing numbers until total freedom is ours. We shall settle for nothing less, and may God grant that we may have the courage, the strength, and the faith in this hour of trial by fire never to falter.” 

Those were the closing remarks of A Philip Randolph’s address to the throngs of people, black and white gathered on the National Mall during the 1963 March on Washington. The same march that would shine the light of day on  Dr. King’s “dream”. A march primarily organized to focus the country like a laser on the moral imparative of equality. Randolph and other organizers dubbed it the March on Washington for Jobs and Justice. Those seminal closing words uttered by that stalwart figure of civil rights, those marching orders need to ring out again.

We must act. Today, 46.2 million Americans live below the poverty line, the highest such total since the census bureau began recording such figures.  Further, 22% of the countries children are living in poverty (the highest it’s been since 1993) and when broken down demographically the numbers become even more disturbing:

Child Poverty Rates:

  • African-American – 40%
  • Latino – 37%
  • White – 12%

The country is struggling, it’s people (African-American’s more than all others) are suffering, and our political class is haggling. At least one sector of our political class would prefer to allow this devolving situation to continue. Why, because they want power. They want the White House back.  They want to defeat Barack Obama. It is plain to see when Republican aide’s (anonymous of course) have the audacity to be quoted saying “Obama is on the ropes. Why do we appear ready to hand him a win?”

We need to act.

We are told by the conservatives that we should be more endearing to corporate America; reduce the taxes on the generationally wealthy (but not for the middle-class); then maybe there can be accord and movement from Congress.

We need to act. We must marshall ourselves in mass again, we need to defy the obstructionism of the Republicans and the malaise of the Democrats. We must force them to act on the interests of their constituents. Frederick Douglass is still right”

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

We must act, and further we need not wait for the usual drum majors to champion our cause, but we all must as the Negro National Anthem suggests “Lift every voice and sing, ’til Earth and Heaven ring! Ring with the Harmony of Liberty!” You and I are the drum majors for justice who need to carry the civil rights revolution home with us into every nook and cranny of the land”. We are the foot soldiers “that should return to Washington in very growing numbers until total freedom is ours.”

WE MUST ACT! We cannot keep waiting on the politicos of our day, less we become those who say as Dr. King described from his cell in Birmingham:

 “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.”

The season will never be convenient to the lukewarm.

We must act. We must defend the social safety net. We need to push against the corporate elites that horde trillions while the country has the highest level of child poverty in years. We need to demand Congress not wait 14 months before acting on jobs legislation. We Must Act!

The Bible quotes Jesus as saying,

“I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh , when no man can work .”
That night has come for 46.2 million of us. Roll up your sleeves.
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