Saturday, Aug. 28, will mark the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom convened by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other deputies of the Civil Rights Movement. The same date also commemorates the murder of Emmett Till in 1955, as well as the 2008 Denver nomination of Barack Obama becoming the first Black president of the United States.
It is without doubt that at the time when King and others like the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., Rev. Joseph Lowery and Rev. Bernard Lafayette were fighting the stench of racism and Jim Crow laws, no one had any idea that one day a man named Barack Obama would be president. But Robert F. Kennedy predicted then that 40 years later an African American could be president of the richest nation in the world.
And so 47 years later what have African Americans gained in the fight for equality?
Is there economic parity?
Are civil rights laws been fully enforced to protects the rights of everyone, including those without access to political power and connections?
Has racism died?
Dr. King dreamed of a nation that would judge his children by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. Yet a few weeks ago, Shirley Sherrod became the latest victim of skin color politics orchestrated by the well oiled race baiting machine that made the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack look incompetent and his department look like a signpost that exists only in name, not in good deeds.
Because of the USDA’s history of battling with Black farmers, the Sherrod debacle only helped to deepen suspicion of Vilsack’s USDA in Obama’s America.
Even the national NAACP, the ought-to-know-better organization under the leadership of Benjamin Jealous, fell for the race-baiting trap in a way that insulted the integrity of other organizations that have long fought Jim Crow, and understood the tricks of those who try to fan the embers of race and racism.
For the first time we saw the national NAACP in the same bed with the race-baiters, calling on Sherrod to resign before they realized they were tricked into the bedroom of racism. In Catholic lingo this kind of hasty, cowardly and thoughtless way the national NAACP president reacted to Sherrod initially is an unpardonable sin.
My grandmother warned me as a lad to always “look before you leap,” good advice for Ben Jealous and his crew next time — that fairness demands hearing all sides to the story.
To make a decision without hearing the other party is anti-democratic, unbecoming of the foremost civil rights organization in this country.
Crucifixion before trial should not ever be part of our policy. King would be turning over in his grave to learn that a woman who has dedicated her life to the fight for racial parity reconciliation was repudiated by her own — the NAACP — based on false accusation.
The White House, in a rather dismissive, unthinkable way, dropped the ball, forcing the Black president to call and apologize to Sherrod over something his staff should have been schooled on.
That is why diversity and cultural relations are an ever effective ingredient for top decision makers in any government, company or management that seeks to enhance its standing among those it serves.
Despite the increase in hate speech, and the growing signs that racism is not going away anytime soon, I can still say without any qualms that in 2010 we live in Obama’s America that is pregnant with possibilities and opportunities as well as risks — if the right things are done to meet the demands of an economically stricken nation.
It is still not late for the Democrat-controlled US Senate to do what is right by Black farmers and give them the money they have been owed for ages. These same Democrats expect Blacks to flock to the polls like sheep to the slaughter in November, and yet behind the backs of African Americans they are refusing to move an inch to make what could be a historic economic remittance possible.