Martin Luther King

White America’s Waco insanity: The shocking realities it ignores about racism & violence

White America's Waco insanity: The shocking realities it ignores about racism & violence

Booking photos of people arrested during the motorcycle gang related shooting at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas on May 17, 2015. (Credit: AP/McLennan County Sheriff’s Office)

SALON

The response to the Twin Peaks shootout says everything you need to know about how white privilege really works

Malcolm X, the famed Civil Rights leader and minister of the Nation of Islam, would have turned 90 years old this week. While America annually marks the significance of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it is only in Black communities nationally, and locally in Harlem, that we mark and celebrate the birth of King’s most formidable racial adversary. Undoubtedly this has something to do with the very forthright and unflinching manner in which Malcolm X talked about race in the 1960s. El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, as Malcolm X was otherwise known, did not have any hope that white people could or would change when it came to race. Although King was far less optimistic at the end of his life about the capacity of white people to change, too, he still has the March on Washington speech, which represented the zenith of his racial optimism.

Malcolm X was different. His unflinching honesty about the evils of white racism made even King, formidable orator that he was, scared to debate Malcolm in public. Though he eventually toned down his rhetoric about the people that he was known to refer to as “white devils,” he never backed down from holding white people accountable for their investment in and perpetuation of white supremacy. For instance, in a 1963 public conversation and debate with James Baldwin, Malcolm X told him, “Never do you find white people encouraging other whites to be nonviolent. Whites idolize fighters. …At the same time that they admire these fighters, they encourage the so called ‘Negro’ in America to get his desires fulfilled with a sit in stroke, or a passive approach, or a love your enemy approach or pray for those who despitefully use you. This is insane.”

And indeed we did get a front row seat to such insanity this week, when three biker gangs in Texas, had a shootout in a parking lot that left nine people dead and 18 people injured. More than 165 people have been arrested for their participation in this thuggish, ruggish, deadly, violent, white-on-white street brawl but there has been no mass outcry from the country about this. Though these motorcycle gangs were already under surveillance because of known participation in consistent and organized criminal activity, as Darnell Moore notes at Mic, “the police didn’t don riot gear.” Moore further notes that “leather and rock music weren’t blamed,” and there hasn’t been any “hand-wringing over the problem of white-on-white crime.”

White people, even well-meaning and thoughtful ones, have the privilege of looking at deadly acts of mass violence of this sort as isolated local incidents, particular to one community. They do not look at such incidents as indicative of anything having to do with race or racism. But everything from the difference in law enforcement response to media response tells us what we need to know about how white privilege allows acts of violence by white people to be judged by entirely different standards than those of any other group. If a Black motorcycle gang had engaged in a shootout in a parking lot, any honest white person will admit that the conversation would have sounded incredibly different.

Frequently in conversations that I have observed or participated in with white people about race, the claim is levied that it is Black people “who make everything about race.” But this incident in Waco gives lie to that claim. It turns out that when white privilege is in clear operation, white people are invested in making sure that we don’t see race in operation. Charles Mills, a philosopher of race, has a term which I think applies here: epistemology of white ignorance. By this means, he means that white people have created a whole way of knowing the world that both demands and allows that they remain oblivious to the operations of white supremacy, that white people remain “intent on denying what is before them.” Thus even though three gangs have now attacked each other in broad daylight and killed or injured 27 people, there is no nagging, gnawing sense of fear, no social anxiety about what the world is coming to, no anger at the thugs who made it unsafe for American families to go about their regular daily activities without fear of being clipped by a stray bullet, no posturing from law enforcement about the necessity of using military weapons to put down the lawless band of criminals that turned a parking lot into a war zone in broad daylight. More than that, there is no sense of white shame, no hanging of the head over the members of their race that have been out in the world representing everything that is wrong with America.

That kind of intra-racial shame is reserved primarily for Black people.

Most white citizens will insist that this was just an isolated incident, even though the gangs were already under surveillance for consistent participation in criminal activity. And this studied ignorance, this sense in which people could look at this set of incidents and simply refuse to see all the ways in which white privilege is at play — namely that no worse than arrest befell any the men who showed up hours later with weapons, looking for a fight — returns me to the words of Malcolm X. For many Americans, this is just good ole American fun, sort of like playing Cowboys-and-Indians in real life. As Malcolm reminded us, “whites idolize fighters.” So while I’m sure many Americans are appalled at the senseless loss of life, there is also the sense that this is just “those wild Texans” doing the kind of thing they do.

White Americans might also deny the attempt to “lump them in” with this unsavory element. But the point is that being seen as an individual is a privilege. Not having to interrogate the ways in which white violence is always viewed as exceptional rather than regular and quotidian is the point. White people can distance themselves from their violent racial counterparts because there is no sense that what these “bikers” did down in Texas is related to anything racial. White Americans routinely ask Black Americans to chastise the “lower” elements of our race, while refusing to do the same in instances like this. Yes, white people will denounce these crimes, but they won’t shake a finger at these bikers for making the race look bad. It won’t even occur to them why Black people would view such incidents as racialized.

Such analyses are patently unacceptable. And they are possible because white bodies, even those engaged in horrendously violent and reckless acts, are not viewed as “criminal.” Yes, some police officers referred to the acts of these killers in Waco as criminal acts and them as criminals, but in popular discourse, these men have not beencriminalized. Criminalization is a process that exists separate and apart from the acts one has committed. It’s why street protestors in Baltimore are referred to as violent thugs for burning buildings, but murderers in Waco get called “bikers.” And if thug is the new n-word (and I’m not sure that’s precise), then “biker” is the new “honky” or “cracker,” which is to say that while the term is used derisively and can communicate distaste, it does not have the devastating social effects or demand the same level of state engagement to suppress such “biker-ish” activity as we demand to suppress the activities of alleged “thugs” and “criminals.”

How we talk about and understand the problem of violence is actually critical to our ability to make any progress on solving the problem of racism in this country. We have turned the word “criminal” into a social category that acts a site of cultural refuse, where we can toss all of our anger, hatred, and resentment, on a group of people, disproportionately people of color, for abhorrent acts that they commit against us and the state. We get to view them as less than human and treat them as such, while acting as though our indignation is pure, righteous, and without hypocrisy. None of this is true.

With white citizens, officers feel it is their duty to protect the unsafe and de-escalate the situation. With Black citizens, officers, acting out of their own fear, escalate conflicts, antagonize citizens, and move swiftly to the use of tanks, tear gas, and billy clubs to subdue, even lawful and peaceful protests. What Malcolm X pointed to, and what we would do well to recapture on this week, as we, if we are brave enough, choose to remember his life, is that there is something fundamentally dishonest about a society that revels in the violence of one group while demanding non-violent compliance from another. That kind of thinking is unjust, unfair, and unproductive. And for those of us who are not white, white ignorance on these matters is.

~

‘Selma Is Now’: John Legend’s Momentous Oscar Speech

glory

Credit: YouTube Screenshot

Think Progress

John Legend and Common won the Academy Award for best original song for “Glory” from the movie Selma, which chronicled Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight for the Voting Rights Act.

Legend took the opportunity to remind the audiece that the struggle continues. “We know that the Voting Rights Act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today,” Legend said. “Selma is now because the struggle for justice is right now.”

(Video is no longer available:  “This video contains content from AMPAS Oscars, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.“)

Selma depicts events that took place 50 years ago. But in just the last two years there has been a stunning assault on voting rights in the United States:

[T]he very rights championed by King have been eroded since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 2013 which effectively struck down the heart of Johnson’s Voting Rights Act.

The high court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder opened the doors for nine Southern states to change their election laws without federal approval. In the year and a half since the decision, courts have heard a number of cases about the constitutionality of newly passed voter ID legislation and other methods of voter suppression, while voters across the country have faced increased barriers to casting their ballots.

Immediately after the Supreme Court struck down the provisions against restrictive voting legislation by ruling that Section 5 of the VRA no longer blocks discriminatory voting changes, states across the country moved forward with laws that were previously blocked. In the first year after the decision, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia all made previously forbidden changes to their voting laws, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

More on Selma’s missing epilogue.

Sarah Palin Poses With ‘Fuc_ You Michael Moore’ Crosshairs Sign At Gunshow

Embedded image permalink

Attribution: none

Liberals Unite

Clint Eastwood’s film American Sniper is stirring passions and debate on both sides of the aisle. Not one to shy away from interjecting herself into controversial topics, half-term Governor Sarah Palin propelled herself right in the middle of it today.

While attending the SHOT firearm trade show on Friday Palin posed with two men and held a sign that read “Fuc_ You Michael Moore.” If you’re not able to make out what else is contained, there are two crosshairs in the “O’s.”

Filmmaker Michael Moore ignited controversy with a series of tweets sent last weekend which some considered to be about the film and its subject, sniper Chris Kyle. Moore referred to snipers as “cowards” and relayed that’s how his uncle lost his life while serving in World War II. Never mentioning the film-or Kyle-by name, the tweets kicked up an amazing dust storm on the right. Moore attempted to clarify, claiming he was thinking about Martin Luther King, Jr.-whose birthday was about to be marked, and whose life was ended at the hands of a sniper.

As you may have guessed, that didn’t temper the hate, as we can see in the sign held by the failed vice presidential candidate.

This isn’t the first time Palin has used murderous imagery to target people. SarahPac released an image featuring crosshairs on a map of legislators who voted for the Affordable Care Act that she was “targeting.” One of those targets was then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who was shot in the head a few months later at an event in Tucson.

Apparently Palin hasn’t learned her lesson, and continues to revel in violent imagery and language hurled against those she disagrees with politically.

Posing with a sign featuring crosshairs, at a gun show no less, makes you no better than those who celebrated the deaths of the twelve individuals at Charlie Hebdo, Governor Palin.

Why the FBI’s Suicide Note to MLK Still Matters

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. |  Express Newspapers/Getty

I had actually forgotten about this for a while. I first learned of it in a Black Studies class in College then on  a television documentary…

The Daily Beast ~ Nick Gillespie

A reminder that Washington has been toying with and lying to Americans for a long, long time.

The more we learn about the government these days, the less we can trust it. Forget about the simple incompetence that used to fire up libertarian critics of an expansive government—that’s a complaint that seems almost quaint given recent and ongoing revelations about official fraud and deception. It’s looking more and more like the government tends toward evil and mean-spiritedness, and it’s going to take real change to reverse eroding faith among citizens.

Though it was sent 50 long years ago, the FBI’s so-called suicide letter to Martin Luther King, Jr. is very much of a piece with today’s America, where fear of and anger toward the government casts a shadow over everything from web-surfing to starting a business. Historian Beverly Gage and The New York Times have just published an unredacted version of the anonymous November, 1964 letter almost certainly sent by the FBI to Martin Luther King, Jr. a few weeks before the civil rights leader was set to accept the Nobel Peace Prize.

The typo-laden note pretends to be from a black American repulsed by King’s “psychotic” sexuality and warns that he will be unmasked as a “filthy, abnormal animal” unless he kills himself. “King you are done,” reads the letter, drawing on surveillance and wiretaps approved by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and President Lyndon Johnson. “There is but one way out for you,” the note continues. “You better take it before your filthy fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”

In the 21st century, we worry less about the government ratting out our sex lives and more about it tapping our phones, reading our emails, secretly dispatching drones abroad, sending “desperate and dumb” mash notes to Iranian fascists, and generally lying about its true goals and actions. “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles” announced theTimes in 2012, clearly uncomfortable with the implications of its own expose (“Secret ‘Kill List’ Reveals Obama’s Principles” would have been more accurate).

So it’s fitting that the letter to King, one of the government’s most despicable acts of domestic surveillance, has only fully come to light in the age of Wikileaks, Edward Snowden, and what Barack Obama promised was going to be the “most transparent administration” in U.S. history.

Alas, when it comes to openness, Barack Obama  neglected to mention that the most disturbing revelations would happen in spite of—not because of—his actions. We didn’t learn that  the president’s former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, former CIA director Keith Alexander, and current CIA director John Brennan all lied to Congress because the administration suddenly decided to come clean.

And it’s not just unseemly cloak-and-dagger stuff in an age of terrorism that’s causing trust issues. MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, who helped create the Affordable Care Act, has rightfully come under fire for admitting that the “lack of transparency” in Obamacare was a political strategy designed to take advantage of “the stupidity of the American voter.” Nancy Pelosi, who was speaker of the House when Obamacare passed, has carried the deception further still, falsely saying that “I don’t know who [Gruber] is” and that “he didn’t help write our bill” —claims that were immediately revealed as false after about 10 seconds of Googling.

A new survey by The Atlantic of 50 “Silicon Valley Insiders”—“executives, innovators, and thinkers”–asks respondents to name “the biggest barrier to innovation in the United States.” The top three answers are “government regulation/bureaucracy” (20 percent), “immigration policies” (16 percent), and “education” (14 percent). Given the role it plays in setting immigration policy and controlling education at all levels through a mix of money and mandates, that means government takes the gold, silver, and bronze medals at making life harder.

It’s not just tech gazillionaires who feel this way. Gallup annually asks jes’ plain folks, “Which of the following do you think is the biggest threat to the country in the future—big business, big labor, or big government?” Last December, a record-high 72 percent chose big government. That’s more than double the figure Gallup recorded when the FBI was listening to Martin Luther King’s heavy-breathing sessions. These days, says Pew Research, just 2 percent (!) of us trust the government “to just about always” do the right thing.

Fifty years ago—again, right around the time that the FBI was about to become the subject of a hagiographic hit TV show and trying to goad Martin Luther King, Jr. into killing himself—Richard Hofstadter was denouncing the “paranoid style in American politics,”. He lamented that, “American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”

But today’s lack of trust and confidence in the government doesn’t seem all that angry. It’s more like we’re resigned to the fact that our rulers think little of us—that is, when they think of us at all. In gaining new knowledge about how people in power almost always behave, we are wiser and sadder and, one hopes, much less likely to put up with bullshit from the left, right, or center.

There’s a real opportunity to the politicians, the parties, and the causes that dare to embrace real transparency —about how legislation is being crafted, about our surveillance programs at home and abroad—as a core value and something other than a throwaway slogan. But as an unbroken thread of mendacity and mischief binds the present to the past, a future in which government can be trusted seems farther off than ever.

New Rule Prohibits Voters In Miami-Dade County From Using The Restroom, No Matter How Long The Line

South Floridians stand in line during the last day of early voting in Miami, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012.

South Floridians stand in line during the last day of early voting in Miami, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012. | CREDIT: AP PHOTO/ALAN DIAZ

I read this headline and my mouth dropped.  What the hell is wrong with the GOP?   I suppose in their mind, the current political climate makes an insane rule like this quite sane.

President Bill Clinton spoke on this very issue yesterday while touting the 50th anniversary of the voting rights act of 1964 at the LBJ Library in Austin Texas.

Clinton spent much of his speech addressing last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was also signed into law by Johnson. The ruling allows several states with a history of discriminatory voting laws, mostly in the south, to change election laws without federal approval.

“It sent a signal throughout the country,” Clinton said of the ruling. “We all know what this is about. This is a way of restricting a franchise after 50 years of expanding it … Is this was Martin Luther King gave his life for?” –  NBC – KXAN

Think Progress

During the 2012 presidential election, voters reportedly waited on line for upwards of six hours. That wait alone is enough to deter would-be voters from going to the polls. But now residents in Florida’s most populous county will have another disincentive: they won’t be able to go to the bathroom.

Earlier this year, the Miami-Dade County Elections Department quietly implemented a policy to close the bathrooms at all polling facilities, according to disability rights lawyer Marc Dubin. Dubin said the policy change was in “direct response” to an inquiry to the Elections Department about whether they had assessed accessibility of polling place bathrooms to those with disabilities.

“I was expecting them to say either yes we have or yes we will,” Dubin said.

Instead, he received a written response announcing that the county would close all restrooms at polling places “to ensure that individuals with disabilities are not treated unfairly,” a January email stated. “[T]he Department’s policy is not to permit access to restrooms at polling sites on election days,” Assistant County Attorney Shanika Graves said in a Feb. 14 email. Elections Department officials did not immediately respond to ThinkProgress inquiries.

Dubin said he was “shocked” at this response, and not just because it suppresses the vote for everybody. The Americans with Disabilities Act also requires entities to make “reasonable accommodations” to those with disabilities. For those with a number of conditions, including diabetics and those taking diuretics, closing the restroom will make standing in that line impossible, and thus discriminate against disabled voters.

But those with disabilities are not the only ones who would suffer disproportionately from this policy. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology analysis found that blacks and Hispanicswaited almost twice as long to vote as whites in the 2012 presidential election. Another analysis found that this “time tax” also impacted young voters. And this would be one of a number Florida voter suppression policies that have a particular impact on the elderly.

The state’s next-most populous counties, Broward and Palm Beach, told the Sun Sentinelthey would not implement this policy.

Sunday Talk: White is the new black

Daily Kos

This week marked the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington—when more than 250,000 people descended on the National Mall in support of civil rights, andMartin Luther King, Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.

As much of a visionary as Dr. King was, it is unlikely that even he could’ve imagined just how far we’d come in the time since.

The Republican party, which for decades had denounced him as a radical leftist, has now taken to embracing Dr. King asone of their own.

They have also begun to adopt Dr. King’s strategy of non-violent resistance in thefight against President Obama’s efforts to enslave us with health care.

But in what is perhaps the greatest sign of progress in Obama’s America, white people are now just as likely to be the victims of discrimination as black people.

[This line omitted]

Morning lineup:

Meet the Press: Secretary of State John Kerry; Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY); Roundtable:Bill Kristol (Weekly Standard), Gwen Ifill (PBS), Former White House Press SecretaryRobert Gibbs and Katty Kay (BBC America).Face the Nation: Secretary of State John Kerry; Sen. John McCain (R-AZ); Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA); Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA); Anthony Cordesman (Center for Strategic and International Studies).

This Week: Secretary of State John Kerry; Former Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chair Gen. James CartwrightVali Nasr (Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies);Roundtable: Democratic Strategist James Carville, Republican Strategist Mary Matalin, Peggy Noonan (Wall Street Journal) and Radio Host Tavis Smiley.

Fox News Sunday: Secretary of State John KerryRoundtable: Retired Gen. Jack Keane, Former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Jennifer Rubin (Washington Post) andCharles Lane (Washington Post).

State of the Union: Secretary of State John Kerry; Rep. (D-NY); Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA); Former Centcom Commander Gen. Anthony Zinni; Middle East Analyst Robin Wright; Former Chief of Staff to Leon Panetta Jeremy Bash; Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT); Roundtable: Democratic Strategist Donna BrazilleDavid Frum (Daily Beast), Democratic Strategist Cornel Belcher and Ross Douthat (New York Times).

Evening lineup:

60 Minutes will feature: a report on the latest developments in the Costa Concordia salvage operation (preview) an interview with Twitter founder Jack Dorsey (preview)  and, a report on educational website “Khan Academy,” which teaches millions of students across the world each month (preview).

Continue reading after the fold…

 

10 things you need to know today: August 29, 2013

A firefighter tries to douse part of the Rim Fire on Aug. 24 near Groveland, Calif.

The Week

World leaders debate military strikes on Syria, California enlists drones to fight a massive wildfire, and more

1. Obama still undecided on Syria strike
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday that U.N. experts collecting evidence from an apparent chemical attack in Syria will report to him as soon as they leave the country Saturday. Meanwhile, President Obama said Wednesday that he had not yet made a decision on whether he would order a military strike against Syria. However, administration officials have added that even without hard evidence tying Assad to the attack, the Syrian leader bears ultimate responsibility and should be held accountable. In Britain, opposition leaders forced Prime Minister David Cameron to back down on calls for an immediate strike. [The New York TimesThe Washington PostAssociated Press]
………………………………………………………………………………

2. Military drone now helping fight California wildfire
An unmanned military Predator drone is now helping battle a California wildfire that has been raging since Aug. 17. The aircraft is helping to provide round-the-clock information to firefighters; helicopters that needed to refuel every two hours previously provided firefighters with their air information. Crews contained 30 percent of the fire on Wednesday, but at least 4,500 structures remain threatened, as do the power and water utilities for San Francisco and the Bay Area.[NBC News]
………………………………………………………………………………

3. Jury recommends death penalty for Fort Hood shooter
A military jury on Wednesday recommended the death penalty for convicted Fort Hood, Texas, shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan, who was behind a 2009 massacre that left 13 people dead and 32 others wounded. [CNN]
………………………………………………………………………………

4. Fast-food strikes set for cities nationwide
Thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities on Thursday, as part of a push to get chains such as McDonald’s and Taco Bell to pay workers more than double the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. It’s expected be the largest nationwide strike by fast-food workers. The move comes amid calls from the White House, some members of Congress, and economists to hike the federal minimum wage, which was last raised in 2009. [ABC News]
………………………………………………………………………………

5. Obama echoes MLK’s words in Lincoln Memorial speech
Tens of thousands of Americans thronged to the National Mall Wednesday to join President Obama, civil rights pioneers, and performers in marking the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. President Obama challenged new generations to seize the cause of racial equality and honor the “glorious patriots” who marched to the Lincoln Memorial. “The arc of the moral universe may bend toward justice, but it doesn’t bend on its own,” Obama said. [Huffington Post]
………………………………………………………………………………

6. Verizon and Vodafone in buyout talks
Verizon and Vodafone have rekindled talks about a buyout of the U.K. company’s stake in their U.S. wireless joint venture, in a deal that may cost Verizon over $100 billion. Verizon has sought for years to buy out Vodafone’s 45 percent stake in the largest U.S. cellphone carrier, but the companies have never agreed on price. [The Wall Street Journal]
………………………………………………………………………………

7. Swedish scientists confirm new periodic table element
Scientists in Sweden have finally confirmed a new element that was first proposed in 2004. The element with the atomic number 115 has yet to be named, but is currently called ununpentium. “Scientists hope that by creating heavier and heavier elements, they will find a theoretical ‘island of stability,’ an undiscovered region in the periodic table where stable super-heavy elements with as yet unimagined practical uses might exist,” according to Live Science[NPR]
………………………………………………………………………………

8. “Twerk” gets Oxford’s blessing… sort of
The Oxford University Press announced Wednesday that twerk and selfie, among other words, are being added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online. A misunderstanding caused an internet uproar when readers believed that the newfangled words were being added to the Oxford English Dictionary. The Oxford Dictionaries Online focuses on contemporary English, a distinction that the Oxford University Press noted in its press release. [Slate]
………………………………………………………………………………

9. Manziel suspended for first half of Saturday’s game
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who won the Heisman Trophy last year, will be suspended for the first half of the team’s season-opening game against Rice on Saturday for an “inadvertent violation” of NCAA rules regarding autograph signing. A&M senior associate athletic director Jason Cook said both the school and the NCAA found that “there is no evidence Manziel received monetary reward in exchange for autographs,” but added that student-athletes know that autographs are likely to be sold for commercial purposes. [USA TODAY]
………………………………………………………………………………

10. Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones reportedly split up
Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are reportedly separated and living apart, though neither has filed for divorce or moved toward a legal separation. The pair, who wed in 2000, have two children. Sources told People that the stresses from Douglas’ 2010 cancer diagnosis and Zeta-Jones’ struggles with bipolar II disorder played a role in the split. [People]

Bill Clinton Explains The Real Way To Honor King’s Dream

Bill Clinton Thumbs Up (Featured)

Think Progress

President Bill Clinton connected Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “I have a dream” speech to the struggles still facing the nation during a speech on Wednesday commemorating the 50th anniversary of the historic address.

“I would respectfully suggest that Martin Luther King did not live and die to hear his heirs whine about political gridlock,” Clinton argued. “It is time to stop complaining and put our shoulders against the stubborn gates holding the american people back,” he said, laying out five ways Americans can improve the country:

Ensure equal access to education. “We cannot be disheartened by the forces of resistance to building modern economy of good jobs and rising incomes or to rebuilding our education system to give all our children a common core of knowledge necessary to ensure success. Or to give Americans of all ages access to affordable college and training programs. And we thank the president for his efforts in those regards.”

Implement Obamacare. “We cannot relax in our efforts to implement health care reform in a way that ends discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions, one of which is inadequate income to pay for rising health care. A health care reform that will lower cost and lengthen lives.”

Invest in science. “Nor can we stop investing in science and technology to train our young people of all races for the jobs of tomorrow and to act on what we learn about our bodies, our businesses, and our climate.”

Protect the vote. “We cannot be discouraged by a Supreme Court decision that said we don’t need this critical provision of the Voting Rights Act because look at the states. It made it harder for African-Americans and Hispanics and students and the elderly and the infirm and poor working folks to vote. What do you know? They showed up, stood in line for hours, and voted anyway, so obviously we don’t need any kind of law.”

Expand gun safety. “But a great democracy does not make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon.”

Watch it:

5 Things You Need To Know About The March On Washington

The National Memo

Birmingham 1963

President Kennedy Initially Resisted The Idea

Unions And A Gay Man Played Key Roles

View_of_Crowd_at_1963_March_on_Washington

John Lewis, The Youngest Speaker At The Event, Was Forced To Revise His Speech

(See video at the above link.)

Women Were Barely Represented

Landscape

Martin Luther King Improvised The “I Have A Dream” Speech

When you watch Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech from the March on Washington, it’s almost shocking how slowly he begins, plodding along as the crowd cheers him, trying to summon prophecy.

Then several minutes in, gospel legend Mahalia Jackson plays a crucial role in inspiring the man behind the podium that only one woman had been allowed to speak from.

“He was just reading, and she just shouted to him, ‘Tell them about the dream, Martin. Tell them about the dream,’”said Clarence Jones, an advisor to King who had helped write King’s speech. “I was standing about 50 feet behind him, to the right and to the rear, and I watched him — this is all happening in real time — just take the text of his speech and move it to the left side of the lectern, grab the lectern and look out.”

King had spoken about his “dream” before. But if Jackson hadn’t been there that day, we may have been denied a piece of oratory that captured a vision of an America that we’re still trying to realize today.

Martin Luther King – I Have A Dream Speech – August 28, 1963

I Have a Dream Speech

Martin Luther King’s Address at March on Washington
August 28, 1963. Washington, D.C.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Uploaded by sullentoys

Full text of the speech