A Historic Moment
On August 28th, 1963, I was among the hundreds of thousands on the mall in Washington marching for "Jobs and Freedom Now!" I will never forget the exhilaration of that day. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s speech brought all of us to our knees.
We have parsed his speech from that day down to four words: “I have a dream.” His speech was so much more than that. That day was the culmination of a hundred years of struggle. It was a moment built on the back of three years of sit-ins, freedom rides, community organizing and voter registration. It came after thousands had been jailed, beaten, killed and injured in the struggle to end segregation in our country. It was the most amazing moment of my young life as a teen-age civil rights activist.
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Tonight I will see a black man, an African American, be nominated for President of the United States. It is an amazing moment. It is numbing. I just think how far we have come in a generation. This is a very emotional moment. Every time I interview an African American about this moment their eyes well up and voices become choked with emotion. After 400 years of slavery, a hundred years of segregation and intimidation and forty years of struggle for a seat at the table in an America based on equality, Barack Obama is going to be the nominee of the Democratic Party and may be the next President of the United States.
When he stood up on stage I broke out into a huge grin. He is standing there on the shoulders on all those who sacrificed to create an America that brings truth to liberty and equality that our nation was founded upon.
I think about my friends who died in the struggle for freedom and those who sacrificed their well-being to fight for human rights. I think about my African American and white children and grand children. This is their moment. We fought hard and bled to see this moment.
Tears are welling up now in my eyes as I write. It is so difficult to convey in words how powerful and wonderful a moment this is not just for me but also for all of America.
There are two conventions going on here in Denver, as there will be for the Republicans in Minneapolis. One is for the well connected and the well off, and another for everyone else.
Lobbyists are everywhere. They are having private receptions for all kinds of political figures and their wealthy patrons. Now, I have nothing against wealthy patrons and supporters of good work in America but what is going on here is unseemly.
An ABC reporter was arrested and really roughed up by Denver police when he tried to film and question guests going to one of these events. He was grabbed around the throat and manhandled. Other reporters have been threatened and roughly pushed by private security guards and police offices for trying to report this news.
DNC delegates are given bags with the logo of AT&T emblazoned on the side. AT&T threw a huge party for the Blue Dog Democrats on the first night to thank them for voting for FISA and ensuring that corporation could not be sued for eavesdropping. Democracy Now! reporters were pushed around by private security for trying to talk to people walking to the entrance.
Barack Obama and John McCain have profoundly different visions for America. The elephant in the room is the corporate political alliance that has access to power that the citizens of this country could never imagine.
The Democrats should be leading the charge against this. Perhaps if Obama is elected the other part of this democracy, the community and political activists who believe in a more open government will have a voice.
We have to hope so.
Talk to you all tonight…