I have to say that as much as I admire and respect President Barack Obama, his second inaugural speech, on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s holiday observance, gave short shrift to the African-American community and did not mention racism as a continuing evil.
Early in his speech he says, “Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.” Here, he alludes to the fact that this country was built using stolen land and stolen labor, but President Obama does not connect that history to conditions today. He suggests it’s time to move on.
“ …our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law… Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity — until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm.”
Individually, we fit into the groups mentioned, but what are we to applaud here? President Obama had the opportunity on Monday to give the challenges faced by African-Americans a more direct mention.
President Obama lumped fire hoses, tear gas, dogs and billy clubs directed at the Selma protests, in with the women’s suffrage meeting at Seneca Falls and the fighting outside the Stonewall nightclub.
Which means that, unless he’s saving it for the State of the Union, there will be no Great Society or Marshall Plan for the African-American community.
The president goes on to say “…we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice – not out of mere charity but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity, human dignity and justice.
He could have added systemic racism as a nod toward what is happening in Black communities across the nation.”
With the Black community battered by virtually every crises an urban area can harbor, we look forward to his State of the Union Address where the president will have the opportunity to address the issues that men and women have fought and died for. By David Mark Greaves