Although today is not the actual date of birth for Civil Rights and humanitarian leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we have given him the ultimate American honor, a day off for workers, and retail sales prices at your favorite stores. I hope that we keep in mind that Dr. King would have been embarrassed by the personal accolades, marches in his honor, and the mention of his name to the exclusion of his defier[s] in arms; People like civil rights and women's rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer; the Reverend Ralph Abernathy; Rep. John Lewis, and activist Ella Baker. There were people who sat down and were shot down like Rosa Parks, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz [Malcolm X]and Bishop Julian Smith, so that I can travel freely on public transportation and live without open recrimination or fear.
These people brought intelligence, bagged lunches, and courage while marching in the face of death and beatings from hateful whites as well as ‘legal’ authorities. That brings me to the march of open terror in Virginia today. Jack-booted thugs wearing military-style vest, and others armed to their unhooded-teeth and looking for conflict descended upon the Capital [Richmond] of Virginia today. Anyone who has been on a planning committee or an organizing group looks into the logistics of a march or rally and allows for any conflicting or competing events for maximum effect; positively or negatively.
The host group, Virginia Citizens Defense League, is led by Philip Van Cleeve. In an article published in the New York Times (Jan. 17, 2020) Mr. Van Cleeve was quoted as having said previously that, “VCDL is proud to be categorized as an extremist organization, and we fully intend to continue being such!” Of course, these vagaries were not lost on militia groups and white supremacists like Richard B. Spencer’ who has threatened to attend. Van Cleeve himself admitted MLK day was picked because he could get maximum attendance because it is a holiday.
So, once again the Dream has been deferred. Dr. King who lived in peace and died in violence could not even escape a day honoring his memory in death to clasp hands with our brothers of all colors peacefully. Instead, local authorities in Virginia and the FBI are conducting pat-downs and were forced to make interventionist arrests.
In the past, this had been a day for pro-gun groups to lobby peacefully the state legislature, but in the era of Trump outrageousness is seen as the key to success. Raising money off phony outrage and insult is the new conservative mantra. Just a few days ago, appointed Arizona Senator Martha McSally, made a point of publicly berating CNN reporter Manu Raju because he asked the same question Fox News voice Laura Ingraham asked later that night on her tv program and was met with a humility-giggle. An assessment later will be taken of the time, expense and fear foisted upon the community because armed militias came once again to Virginia.
I am not going to discount the real fear of self-protection and I have written in the past that some weapons are necessary, but why today. If you want my ear and my empathy toward your cause exploiting the day that one of the most beloved leaders of my community took a rifle shot to the neck, that left him bleeding and dying on a balcony of the Lorraine Motel is not the day to plead your case.
“ I am sick and tired of being sick and tired”- Fannie Lou Hamer
Vote in 2020 for Change.