Sunday, July 20, 2008

History in the making and deja vu

Republican Politics, American Style
Published on July 3rd in Metro Eireann By Charles Laffiteau

Thoroughly exhausted from my trip to the states and the effects of 18 months of US Presidential political campaign activism, I am hoping to unwind this weekend by camping and enjoying some music at this weekend’s Oxegen festival in County Kildare. But before I turn off the noise from the traffic in the city and tune in to the music at Oxegen, I want to offer my readers a bit of commentary regarding Barack Obama’s Democratic Presidential nomination.
Who among you believed you would ever live to see the day that an African American would be nominated by a major American political party to become President of the United States? I hoped that I might, but rather doubted that I actually would.
Would you have believed it four years ago if someone had told you that American voters would do precisely that on a late spring evening in June of 2008? I can assure you I wouldn’t have believed it and probably would have suggested that the person telling me this needed to see a doctor and have a serious discussion about their delusional thinking.
June 3rd of 2008 will be remembered by current and future generations of Americans as one of the most historic and momentous occasions in US history. As a result of Barack Obama’s victory following the last Democratic primary of 2008, Senator Obama will now have the opportunity to deliver an acceptance speech on the evening of the last day of the Democratic Party’s National convention in Denver, Colorado
Is it just a coincidence that the final day of the convention on August 28th just so happens to come 45 years to the day after another famous speech was delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC? Maybe it is just a coincidence. But maybe…..just maybe…. there is something else at work here.
Because you see that other famous speech which was delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28th 1963, was one that inspired a generation of Americans to put an end to racial discrimination. The man who delivered that speech was none other than Dr. Marin Luther King, who evoked the name of President Lincoln in his “I Have a Dream” speech, which is credited with mobilizing supporters of desegregation and prompted the 1964 Civil Rights Act which put an end to legal segregation in the US.
Allow me to offer you a few excerpts from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech;
“Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
The next year, Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. But in my heart and soul I believe that were Dr. King alive today, he would gladly trade his Nobel Prize and every honor he had ever been given, to see the son of a black man and a white woman accept the Democratic nomination to become President of the United States of America.
Make no mistake, racial prejudice still exists in the United States and there will be many Americans who will not vote for Barack Obama on November 4th because he is an African American. After all, it took a hundred years after slavery ended to outlaw discrimination against the descendants of slaves. But I also believe there are many more Americans who will not allow racial prejudice to dictate their voting decision today than there were back in 1963.
Dr. King would be very gratified by the racial progress we’ve made during the 45 years between his “I Have a Dream” speech and Barack Obama’s Presidential nomination acceptance speech. In fact, I happen to believe Dr. King will actually be in the convention hall on August 28th ……standing beside me……and wearing a smile from ear to ear.

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