Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – August 26, 2011

The dedication of the Martin Luther King Memorial has been postponed giving us an opportunity to think about the other men and women who should be remembered. The Tea Party stalwarts are whining about being called terrorists and we can reasonably ask, “Why?” And finally, Nick Ashford died this past week. Another artist-hero has died and once more we should be thankful for the musical gifts that he bestowed during his lifetime, gifts that will most certainly live on.

In Memoriam

The dedication of the Martin Luther King Memorial has been indefinitely postponed due to Hurricane Irene. When the dedication does take place it will be an important and historic event.

The honor to Dr. King is important. It is also important that in honoring Dr. King the thousands of unnamed men and women who sacrificed and supported the civil rights movement are also remembered. Most of us are familiar with names like Thurgood Marshall and W.E.B. Dubois and Rosa Parks. But the movement that changed a nation and changed the world was powered by men and women named Liuzzo and Green and Cheney and Schwerner and Goodman and Sherrod.

There is a tendency in this country to sanitize the less pleasant aspects of this country’s past. The Disney-like version goes like this: “There was racial discrimination in this country and then Martin Luther King came along and gave a great speech. After that the Civil Rights Bill was passed and justice prevailed.”

Aside from being wrong, this sanitized version doesn’t tell the truth – that millions of men and women and children, black and white, united against tremendous and brutal and cruel opposition to change this country. This change took place over a period of over 50 years and the struggle is not complete.

Change in this country does not come about easily or quickly. Change does not come without pain and dedication and sacrifice. Change is not brought about by the few. It is brought about the many.

Frederick Douglass once said, “Power concedes nothing without demand”. It is a lesson that needs to be relearned right now.

If the Shoe Fits….

The G.O.Tea Party zealots have been weeping crocodile tears over being labeled “terrorists” by Democrats. They have also been accused of using terrorist tactics in connection with their debt ceiling debate antics and hijinks.

One G.O.Tea Party Taliban wannabees even confronted President Obama in Iowa over the matter. Presumably he wanted an apology from the Commander in Chief for his hurt feelings. President Obama finessed a response that sounded like, “No one said you were terrorists, just that some of you were acting like terrorists”.

I wish that President Obama had channeled his inner Bob Marley and just said, “Who the cap fits, let dem wear it”. After all, the right wing of the right wing held this country and its economy and its people hostage during the budget ceiling debacle.

It is true that they didn’t use the threat of bombs. Instead they threatened to collapse the economy of the planet, a goal that would certainly coincide with that of Osama bin Laden or The Jackal. The right wing of the right wing made non-negotiable budget demands that required grievous cost cutting that will negatively impact upon the lives of millions of Americans.

Sounds like hostage taking and terrorist tactics to me. “If the shoe fits, let him wear it”. And stop whining.

In Memoriam – 2

Nick Ashford died earlier this week. With his wife, Valerie Simpson (who celebrates her birthday today); he wrote such songs as “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “Solid as a Rock”, “I’m Every Woman” and so many others. The lyrics he wrote were poems that blended with the music using art of phrasing and symbolism in a unique fashion.

One has to wonder if the work of Ashford and Simpson, or Smokey Robinson or Holland-Dozier-Holland would be welcome if presented as original music today. Today it seems amazing that they could write tremendous music without ever mentioning niggers, bitches or guns.

With that said, we are thankful to have been the beneficiaries of the artistry of Nick Ashford.

Have a great weekend!

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