“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12 (NASB)
By Bobby R. Henry, Sr.
As some of her citizens here in the United States begin to prepare for the celebration in recognition of “Independence Day”, I would like to bring to the forefront of conversations concerning some information about the juxtaposition of “freedom” to our remembrance. In so doing I would like to expose a glimpse into the ideologies from three great Americans or perhaps an outward aspect of their revelation as it pertains to freedom and the disproportion of its distribution to people of color and the poor. Those three American heroes to me are Frederick Douglass, born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dr. William Barber, II. I have no claim to fame of knowing any one of these individuals personally; however, I’ve been touched by their words and thoughts. To begin with I think Mr. Douglas asked a question that has been so pivotal and re-sounding to the question concerning the “other American” and yet we have not gotten an appropriate answer to it. And that question is, “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?”
Mr. Douglas’ answer then should now be engrained in the minds and hearts of those who wish to govern over citizens everywhere. Like words engraved in stone, trying to remove them will break and crumble the empire that is built upon them when tried to be removed. Mr. Douglas profoundly stated that day and it is still reverberating on the pages of history begging to be answered. What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: “a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy – a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.”
How would you feel if you were made to and was subjected to the ultimate depiction of the bastard/ or the one who lived in the other America? Dr. King described this other America as a place where people live in daily ugliness, his/her enthusiasm of hope transfigured into weariness and hopelessness. In this America Black, Brown and poor people roam the street like walking dead trying to find employment where there is none for them. There are 46.7 million poor people in America. In this America they find themselves “perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.” Rats and roaches become the playmates for the children who live in this America. As a result of their playmates how do these children compete with others who live outside of their America?
Even though the composition of this fabric in this other America is extremely diverse, the African American plight is far more devastated than others. Our human misery is almost self-inflicted do to the lack of America’s human touch. We can over eat at the trough of human misery through feelings of denial, dependence, denunciation, and condemnation.
As Dr. King stated, “So what we are seeking to do in the Civil Rights Movement is to deal with this problem. To deal with this problem of the two Americas. We are seeking to make America one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
“But we must see that the struggle today is much more difficult. It’s more difficult today because we are struggling now for genuine equality. And it’s much easier to integrate a lunch counter than it is to guarantee a livable income and a good solid job. It’s much easier to guarantee the right to vote than it is to guarantee the right to live in sanitary, decent housing conditions. It is much easier to integrate a public park than it is to make genuine, quality, integrated education a reality. And so today we are struggling for something which says we demand genuine equality.”
Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II has engaged and rallied thousands of people to agitate and caused the government to try and resolve the itch of angst do to racial profiling and voter disenfranchisement as well as to address other state government maladjustments towards the less fortunate.
These protests so named as Moral Mondays is a fitting name due to the abuse perpetrated on the least and less fortunate by those who could make a difference: the law makers, preachers and the rich and affluent.
Rev. Barber has been able to study history and equate this not so knew treatment of poor people to an outline plan developed and instituted to continue to keep a foot on the necks of the oppressed, calling it the Third Reconstruction in America.
The first Reconstruction period, for a short time, thrived after Emancipation, while the second Reconstruction period during the civil rights era offered glimmers of hope, yet each time progress forged forward, the opposing factors squashed the progress like a bug under a steamroller. Now, the third Reconstruction is an overwhelmingly moral emergent of people of love and justice coming together demanding the opportunity for democracy—even in the face of corporate-financed extremism.
What is woven in the messages of these heroes is the need for inclusion of all kinds of people. “Only such a diverse fusion movement, Rev. Barber argues, can heal our nation’s wounds and produce public policy that is morally defensible, constitutionally consistent, and economically sane. The Third Reconstruction is both a blueprint for movement building and an inspiring call to action from the twenty-first century’s most effective grassroots organizer.”
“Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.” —Frederick Douglas
We have an opportunity to participate in a process that can change the course of history, if only we should vote with the consciousness of a right mind; and that is for all of mankind to be treated by the Golden Rule, “Do to others what you want them to do to you.”