See March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom for background & more information.
See also March on Washington for web links.
I am a Nuyorican, that is a Puerto Rican born in New York City. It also includes my ancestry of African, Native American and Dutch roots. My father passed for a white Spaniard in New York in the '40's when Puerto Ricans were called immigrants even though we were U.S. citizens since 1917.
I was a colored girl whose Aunt Rose taught about Africa and gave me books on my ancestry. I always felt like I had to watch my back. My Grandmother and I rode the bus to Virginia when I was about 9 years old. She looked white and I followed her in to the white only bus station restaurant. We were both put out in hostile silence. I just knew I had done something wrong when it was because I was just the wrong color.
I was in high school when my mother who was active with Coretta Scott King in Women's Strike for Peace and the NYC Commission on Human Rights became chair of Northwest NY CORE. I made the bus banners for the Riverdale chapter of CORE for the 1963 March on Washington. It was the first time that my Mom, Grandfather and I would be in the same place for the same reason at the same time. I remember feeling like this was the most important event in my life and that Dr. King was speaking to each of us individually.
I remember Dr. King speaking of the Constitution as a Promissory Note (a check) that we keep trying to cash and it keeps being returned to us as Insufficient Funds. The 14th Amendment says:
"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
It would seem that this Amendment would make it unnecessary for any further legislation, but we have had to go back to the government time and again begging to be treated as whole human beings. Women weren't acknowledged as citizens with the right to vote until the 19th Amendment. And then we went back to the government for a Civil Rights Act and a Voting Rights Act to insure access to the polls. And again for women to have rights over their own bodies. And we are still going back again and again. And the government acts like they can't read the Constitution. Dr. King spoke of "evil triplets of militarism, materialism and racism." I think it's very clear with all of the isms that exists we need more than the civil rights movement we need a human rights movement.
The American institutional culture is rooted in the idea that one being is absolutely better than another. We judge our human value based on institutional racism, sexism, ageism, classism, heterosexism, and many other faulty ideologies. We all participate — We all need to recognize our institutionally corrupt thinking, own it and correct it.
Communities of color, the poor, the aged, disabled, women and LGBT have been institutionally taught to believe in and act on these teachings. Internalized oppression is our own resulting behavior. We have been trained by world events and the history of our country. The new slave master no longer needs an overseer, we have chained ourselves. It is time to break those chains and take an embracing look at OURSELVES and the people around us as all having value.
We changed laws over the years, but did not change the institutional attitudes. What we got was window dressing. Even today we all act out on those beliefs. And Jim and Jane Crow are still alive and thriving.
Neocolonialism is also alive and well in communities of color defined by outsiders in the same way a country is colonized by outsiders. Issues of choice and self determination are controlled from outside the community in property ownership, education, healthcare, business ownership and drainage of economic resources. Most important is the police occupation. And do not be fooled because some of these neo-colonists look like us
On that day, Dr. King asked us to go back to our communities, to our families and neighbors to hold our government to the letter of the law of the land. Citizens should not have to keep begging any government for their inalienable rights given by God. Clearly, these pleas for human recognition are ignored by the neo-colonialists, the ruling class of America, as it were.
I remember that Malcom X would speak harshly of the March, but so much of what he said was true. D.C. police and law enforcement had all liquor stores in the area closed for the day and urged shop owners to pack up their goods and not open. Increased presence of police and troops were put on notice, just in case. We were told what time to arrive and then to be out of town by sundown. The profiling of who was coming to the nation's capital was insidiously evil racist thinking with the power that racism requires to act it out. It was neocolonialism in action. It is at the heart of what we witness today — Fear of any man of color — especially a young man of color.
Dr. King spoke of his Dream and so-inspired me to Dream with him. We have overlooked that while we dream we sleep and at some point we must wake up and do the work those dreams demand. We need to be about the action. That September I started college and the first thing I did was to volunteer for a literacy program. At the end of my first year of college, I immediately made tracks to the CORE headquarters to sign up for the Freedom Summer of '64 voter education project in Louisiana. I could never again take my privilege or citizenship for granted.
Dr. King's commitment to and inspiration for us to make America a better nation is so rooted in where he was killed. He was in Memphis Tennessee fighting for the men who pick up our trash. I THINK THAT IT IS THE EPITOME OF DOING FOR OTHERS, ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO are considered less important in our society.
While seeming to live in a time of equal rights for all, we are really living in a time of great mendacity. A great lie. We put up a false front. The viciousness with which we have no regard for others is eating away at our spirit and we seem to be oblivious. And ironically we have become our own oppressors.
Our communities need rebuilding and we can do that one block at a time — from where we LIVE.
Bayard Rustin was a Quaker, a genius strategist, a Black man and Gay. He had been part of the original March on Washington in 1941 and in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and even though he was the principle organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, he did not speak and let A. Phillip Randolph take the lead credit. Bayard always said, "WE ARE ONE". He read the demands of the March which ended in the affirmation of everyone present to:
The pledge of the revolution, an excerpt:
I pledge to carry the message of the March to my friends and neighbors, back home and arouse them to an equal commitment and equal effort. I will march and I will write letters. I will demonstrate and I will vote. I will work to make sure that my voice and those of my brothers (and sisters) ring clear and determined from every corner of our land.
I pledge my heart and my mind and my body unequivocally and without regard to personal sacrifice, to the achievement of social peace through social justice.
LET US NOT FORGET THE LEGACY OF DR. KING AND MALCOLM X WHO WERE BOTH NEW AGE THINKERS LEADING US FROM A CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT TO A HUMAN RIGHTS MOVEMENT AND DARED TO SUGGEST THAT THE UNITED STATES BE BROUGHT BEFORE THE WORLD COURT FOR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY. IT IS NOW TIME TO WAKE UP AND PUT OUR DREAMS INTO ACTION. WE HAVE NO MORE TIME TO JUST DREAM. IT'S TIME TO ACT NOW FOR HUMAN RIGHTS.
"Become the change you wish to see in the
Copyright © 2013, Fatima Cortez
Copyright © 2013
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