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Ethics & Religion
Column #2,033
July 29, 2020
Black Lives Matter Progress
By Mike McManus

While watching the evening news, it appears that there is no progress in the campaign called "Black Lives Matter." There seems to be endless protests, marches and some violence.

However, the week-long funeral of Rep. John Lewis, which began in his Troy, Alabama home town, then proceeded to a reenactment of Lewis crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, where he was beaten and nearly killed in 1965. His casket was pulled by a horse.

But he was in an elegant hearse when he passed the Lincoln Memorial, where, 58 years ago, he was the youngest speaker after Martin Luther King made his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

His casket was placed in the Capitol Rotunda, where Abraham Lincoln was once honored. He was the first black man to lie in state. And who was the primary speaker at the event? Not House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Instead she chose a recording of John Lewis himself.

"There may be some setbacks, some delays, some disappointments, but you must never, ever give up or give in," Lewis boomed. "You must keep the faith."

As historian Jon Meacham declared, "Lewis's life was a sermon. And in our wretchedly divided and dispiriting time, his words repay our attention. For he spoke and lived in a scriptural tradition of the prophets and the apostles."

Last week Joy Reid launched her new 7 p.m. show, "The ReidOut," on MSNBC. She is the first black woman to have her own prime time TV talk show. Chris Matthews is a former host. Joy topped the time slot in total viewers when 2.8 million tuned in - its second highest rating in history.

Her first guests were Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for President and Hillary Clinton, the last Democratic nominee and former Secretary of State. This week one of her guests was Sen. Kamala Harris, California's black U.S. Senator, being seriously considered by Biden to be his Vice Presidential running mate.

These stories are proof that Black Lives Matter.

They are a total contrast with the history of blacks in America. The first blacks to arrive in the New World 401 years ago - were slaves. Even after the Civil War, when all blacks were set free, few were successful. Education was often denied to them in the South. So millions walked to the North for opportunity.

Even great men like John Muir, father of the national parks and founder of the nation's oldest environmental group, the Sierra Club, denigrated blacks. Muir, who fought to preserve the Yosemite Valley and the Sequoia National Forest - once referred to African-Americans as lazy "Sambos," a racist pejorative that many black people consider to be as offensive as the "n-word."

African Americans, such as Ruth Tyson, an employee of the Union of Concerned Scientists, quit in June after she "woke up feeling resentment and agony" because her job there was unbearable. She wrote a letter with 17 pages of "searing criticism," according to a Washington Post article by Darryl Fears and Steven Mufson. She sent her letter to 200 people.

"They simply baited us In with the language of equity without making significant infrastructural, cultural and procedural changes to prioritize and accommodate the (people of color) or the actual work of racial equity," she wrote. "As if anti-racist work were something you could just sprinkle on top."

Remarkably, her bosses agreed! "I've read the letter many times,' said Ken Kimmell, the organization's president. "I thought it was fair, I think this is part of a larger issue in all of society, and there is real meaning to the culture of white supremacy. There are ways that a white-dominated workplace doesn't make it welcoming to persons of color."

"I have subsequently learned that many of the things she raised in her letter were not unique to her and things other people of color have experienced."

One recent sign of hope for blacks is the agreement to remove statues honoring Confederate generals. In Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy, statues have been removed that honored Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis, and J.E.B. Stuart - men who believed in the fiction of the Lost Cause
.
One exciting change by the Fairfax School Board has been to rename the Robert E. Lee Elementary School to the John Lewis Elementary School.

The goal should be to improve the education, job training and vision of African American children.

Black Lives Matter.

_________________________

Copyright (c) 2020 Michael J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist. To read past columns, go to www.ethicsandreligion.commm. Hit Search for any topic.

 

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