I grew up in a small town outside of Atlanta. I remember finding bullets from the Civil War in the yard of my great-grandparents home where I played as a young child. They were so common in that area I never thought about saving one.
I also remember hearing the term “separate but equal” throughout my youth. The full impact of those racially charged words did not hit home until the early 1960s. I was rehearsing a play at the Fox theater on famed Peachtree Street. When the crew broke for lunch, I went across the street with a black cast member to grab a bite at one of my favorite restaurants. The maitre d’ refused to seat us.
I was shocked and dismayed! Separate but equal was not equal, just separate. Often it meant one had to do with nothing at all. Where were we supposed to go to eat in order to get back to the theater for the afternoon rehearsal? Frankly, I don’t remember where we ate or if we ate. I do remember the impact those words had on me. My friend didn’t get upset like I did. She was accustomed to being treated as a second-class citizen.
So much has changed in the 50 years since that March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered what has become known as his “I Have a Dream” speech. The rhetoric from Saturday’s gathering sickened me. It was supposed to be a celebration of that important event. However, these organizers turned Dr. King’s dream into his worst nightmare. (King himself used that term in an interview just a few years after his landmark speech.)
Dr. King’s message of empowerment and hope was replaced with that of negativity and victimhood. It was as if all the achievements of the last 50 years had suddenly been erased.
In many ways they have. But the very problems now faced by the poor and disenfranchised are not caused by racism or legal barriers. They are caused by the breakdown of the family, illegitimacy, illiteracy, drugs, gangs and a welfare system that traps those who yield to its siren song into a life of dependency.
Not once did I hear any of the keynote speakers address those things that have plagued the poor, and poor blacks in particular. Not surprising, with America’s “racist-in-chief” Al Sharpton leading this parade!
What does Sharpton know about the poor he pretends to represent except that he needs them to be his victims so he can “lead” them down this miserable road? Sharpton, goes by the title of “reverend,” although he never pastored a church. He lives like a king and receives a quarter of a million dollar salary each year from his National Action Network. NAN is heavily subsidized by the teachers’ unions, which is a big reason why Sharpton and the others assembled for this event would not call attention to the failure of the nation’s inner city public schools.
He and Attorney General Eric Holder (another speaker at this event) want to keep these poor kids in those schools. While else would Holder ask a federal court to block Bobby Jindal’s Louisiana from handing out vouchers to poor kids (90 percent of whom are black)? With those vouchers some 8,000 kids in the Pelican State could escape those schools and have the opportunity they deserve to succeed. That is the untold story of this march!
As the first woman sportscaster, I can tell you that if you look for discrimination (as Sharpton does) you will find it. If – despite your best efforts – it finds you, the best way to handle it is with kindness.
Ben Carson, the black doctor who was head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, was dressed down by a supervisor who mistook him for an orderly his very first day at the hospital. Instead of taking offense, the next day, he stopped by her desk to give her flowers. It was one of the most compelling scenes in the movie about his life, “Gifted Hands.”
Carson was raised by an uneducated single mother who made him read books instead of watching television or hanging out on the street. She would not allow him to feel sorry for himself or accept excuses for failure. This is the kind of role model American kids need, not vulgar hip hop artists.
You can get a lot more done with an outstretched hand than with a closed fist. That is something Dr. King preached and Sharpton and the others, who make their livings fanning the dying embers of racism, either don’t care about or never learned.