Today, August 23, 2013, I posted the following remarks on the “Get Schooled” blog of the AJC. The blog had posed the question if there was a silver lining to having segregated schools as a result of former broadcaster, and political player, Pat Buchanan’s contention that segregated schools had some merit:
There is no silver lining in having segregated schools, imo. I think of consciousness of the human condition like the layers of an onion. Pat Buchanan’s consciousness of the human experience is only as deep as the outer layer of that onion, metaphorically, imo. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ghandi, Nelson Mandela have or had consciousness that traveled deep within the human experience and what it means to be fully human. Pat Buchanan simply does not see.
Last night, I viewed the PBS broadcast, “The Freedom Riders,” of 1961. I urge every reader of this blog to view that broadcast to deepen your awareness of what horrors a segregated society can create in the human condition. Segregation created a situation worse than some war zones. The KKK were dominant through their violent methods to insure the perpetuation of segregation. They had a consciousness, fostered after slavery and within the Jim Crow System, that blacks were subhuman and inherently inferior to whites. Segregation’s underlying message, without words, reinforces those brutal and incorrect views of those who are “different” than we are.
MLK Jr. once spoke to an educated, white audience and told them that he was liberating them, also, from fear of association and support of blacks in the environment in which they had to live. I know well what MLK was talking about because I felt those fears of association or liberal views as a teenager in South Georgia, in my segregated community, perpetuated in part by segregated schools.
If you are not within my age range (70), you probably have no real idea what I am writing about. I was 18 years old at the time of those Freedom Rides, but I remember them well. Those who are even 60, presently, probably do not remember the Freedom Riders and the violence and murders against them, as I do.
In 2010, I attended the 50th reunion of my segregated high school class’ graduation. A member of that graduating class of 1960, who was on the program, spoke negatively and passionately of President Obama’s being a stranger to what America is about, and stated publicly that President Obama was “Muslim,” with a horrifying intonation to that word. Of course, I disagreed with him and I voiced my disagreement with his comments. Only my best friend in high school (out of over 100 people present) supported my words. My friend told the classmate that he was “out of line” that he should “sit down”, which he did, because she was a respected and admired class member. This is what segregation instills in people a half century later – low level consciousness of those who are “different.”
Let us NEVER return to those awful days of segregation in America’s history. It is not good for any sector of society. We should work instead toward becoming the “Beloved Society,” as envisioned by King and John Lewis and others.
Please see “Freedom Riders” on PBS. A segment, within that broadcast, is given in the link, below:
Pat Buchanan’s last line was one of cynicism – that we are a nation in decline. I do not believe that. If you view the Freedom Rider’s broadcast that I shared in my 3:53 p.m. post, you will realize that America is not in decline but that America is closer to realizing the “Dream” for equality and, hopefully in the near future, fairplay in the workplace that Martin Luther King, Jr. envisioned in 1963, and that America will live out the full measure of her promise – irrespective of Pat Buchanan’s negativism and cynicism.
The 1960s broke up, and penetrated through, the old, corrupt hierarchical values of inequality including segregation, women’s, and worker’s rights. That social revolution of the 1960s created a transition to a better America in the long run. That transition has not always been easy, but it is far better than what America was like before it occurred.
There are forces in this nation that want to take us backwards to that hierachial American society in which some flourish and others live in dire situations, but we must not let that regression happen. All people who have compassion and empathy for others, as does Antoinette Tuff, must join together to stop those repressive forces which still remain undercurrent in American society.
Dr. King was killed in 1968. ALEC was formed in 1972. We went from a nation which tried to open society to all with an egalitarian vision and spirit for all to a society in which the top 2% have been trying to change those outreach to others values to “everyone for himself” values, which creates a small-minded and petty America. As a result of 40 years of a “me” and “mine” emphasis, Americans have been led to no longer think in terms of giving others, in need, a hand-up but in terms of blaming the victims of society and seeing Americans only in terms of the cynical, surface mantra of “givers and takers.”
It is my hope and my prayer that the 50-year commemoration of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which was delivered at the end of the 1963 March on Washington, will reignite this nation’s spirit and conscience again to be filled with the hope that we can have a better tomorrow and the awareness that we are all in this American experiment, together. Our government has played a vital role making America a better place, contrary to the propaganda that is presently spewed. In the 1960s, the federal government sent federal troops to support the Freedom Riders when Southern governors and mayors refused protection to them, and many were killed, as a result of those Southern governors’ and mayors’ not intervening. The federal government passed the Voting Rights Act in 1964 that gave black people the right fully to be able to vote. The federal government desegregated the schools, by law. The federal government passed anti-poverty bills and early childhood education bills, Title I bills, and Medicare and Medicaid for those in need.
These are all government programs that have lifted the poor and vulnerable in our society. If we see crime in poor areas, today, and in some schools, one of the main reasons, imo, is because our young feel the effects of 40 years of a society that has been self-oriented and has not valued all human life as did the 1960s generation – my generation. My generation tried to demonstrate to this nation that love for our neighbors was more important than glorifying the power of war in the world or attaining great wealth for oneself, and we tried to demonstrate that we all are our brothers’ keepers.
We need more federal programs today, not less. We need a less cynical and more giving nation and the Millennial Generation is ready to embrace a more optimistic nation with a larger vision than looking out for oneself, alone. I hope that the commemoration of Dr. King’s speech next week and the March on Washington will generate a new birth of that enlarged American Spirit, that I so love, which has been absent, as a movement in this nation, for 40 years.
It is time to think larger and with more grace about America, once again. America shall have a new birth of freedom of the human spirit, and America will become what she has always been destined to become.