Monday, August 28, 2006

Did It Dry Up Like A Raisin in the Sun?

Today we celebrate the progress of civil rights and equality in America.

Forty-three years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous "I Have A Dream" speech at the March for Jobs and Freedom, just a mile from where I'm sitting, at the National Mall.

I'd like to focus on one portion of that speech: ""In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked 'insufficient funds.'"

Do you love how he uses a metaphor that would scare The Man? I can just see Whitey, sitting in his office in Chicago, "Lynch mobs, eh, not so bad, none near here. It's all far away. Not my problem. But BAD CHECKS? Not in my backyard!"

SO let's see how we've progressed by playing the "This day in history" game.

2005: Ok, I skipped a few years- there's some othe good stuff in there, like Pigasus getting nominated for president- but last year on this date, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ordered a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans. Since New Orleans is full of a lot of poor peopls (most of whom are black), they didn't have the means to get out. Never fear, along comes the federal govenment. YAAAAAAAY! They give out $2,000 debit cards, so that evacuees can have immediate relief. Two days later, they cancel the plan because the recipient controls were so lax and the program was so confusing that it was doing more harm than good.

So, 42 years after King accuse the government of writing lousy checks, they issued lousy check cards.

Who says that's not progress?

Some other notable events on this day:

1968: Riots break out at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, when counterculture anti-war activists started throwing marshmallows and shit (actual feces, seriously, worst s'mores ever) at the police. For their part, the police responded in a manner indicative of the Daley machine's warmth and understanding of its constituency- by beating the crap out of everyone with Gestapo-like brutality and efficiency (fire hoses really, really hurt). The National Comission on The Causes and Prevention of Violence called the whole debacle a "police riot".


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