Fight Together

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., walks across the Edmund Pettus Bridge with Sen. Hillary Clinton in 2007. At the far left is Sen. Barack Obama. They were there to mark the crossing of the bridge to Selma, Ala., a seminal moment in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

See? This is why you don’t throw your grandparents under the bus. Grandpa can learn to adapt. Grandpa isn’t going to stand on the “wrong side of history.”

Especially when Grandpa Lewis’ district had spoken. US Representative and Civil Rights leader John Lewis said over 75 percent of his district in Atlanta, Ga. voted for Obama. The old man, accused of being “out of touch,” decided he could not subvert the will of his electorate for the sake of an old friendship.

From the Associated Press:

Lewis came under intense pressure to get behind Obama after his constituents supported the Illinois senator roughly 3-to-1 in Georgia’s Feb. 5 primary, and about 90 percent of black voters statewide voted for Obama, according to exit polls. The support among black voters nationwide to Obama’s candidacy mirrors Lewis’ Georgia district.

His change of heart follows a similar move by Rep. David Scott, a black Democrat who represents a neighboring district. It also comes a week after the Rev. Markel Hutchins, a young Atlanta minister, announced he would challenge Lewis in the Democratic congressional primary this summer.

Hutchins, 30, has seized on Lewis’ waffling in the presidential contest as evidence that the 68-year-old congressman is out of touch.

“Today’s announcement by Representative Lewis was clearly prompted by political expediency,” Hutchins said Wednesday. “It is time for a change. It is time to send somebody to Congress who is actually willing to represent the district.”

In an interview Wednesday on MSNBC, Rep. Lewis said the decision to switch from promising his super delegate vote to Hillary Clinton to Obama was harder than his decision to cross the Edmund Pettis Bridge on March 7, 1965 where he and 600 other Civil Rights protesters were beaten with billy clubs and sprayed with tear gas while trying to cross the bridge in a march to Selma, Ala.

Lewis, infamously, get his head bloodied and bashed.

I found this interview very fascinating because Lewis appears to be truly conflicted about the issue, and while the interviewer expressed surprise that deciding to switch delegate support was harder than deciding to catch a beat down for history, I could see where he was coming from.

During the Civil Rights Movement, for those who decided to answer the call to fight for the rights of black Americans, that call was about life and death. It was about righting an injustice that was part of America since its inception. It was easy to pick a side.

Fight together or perish separately as fools.

The enemy was clear. His name was Jim Crow. Open and overt racism was rampant and acceptable in most parts of the United States. Various southern politicians did not tarry to refer to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as “Rev. Martin Luther Coon” on national television.

This was a classic battle of good versus evil. This battle is slightly different. The Clintons, despite their disastrous attempts to beat Obama, including a “scorched earth” policy that came back to burn them via the black vote, are still friends with many of the blacks in the Congressional Black Caucus who worked with both Bill and Hillary throughout the 1990s and later in the Senate with the former First Lady. The CBC has never had this particular problem before – having to chose between friends and the thing Lewis got his skull cracked open for.

Your friends or history, that was John Lewis’ choice. It is the same choice of every Civil Rights Era “freedom fighter.” The Democratic Party became the party of inclusion and that inclusion has lead to the first ever viable black candidate running for president.

I know a lot of black people my age and younger (and older) are pretty pissed off that this would be a hard decision for the people we have long admired. You’d think that someone who was willing to die so a day would come when an “Obama” could feasibly be the next president of the United States would be able to come to this decision with ease. But it isn’t easy when the political is wrapped up in the personal.

Therefore, I don’t get out of whack because the likes of Reps. Charlie Rangel, Maxine Waters and others hooked themselves up to the Clinton bandwagon early on, because at the end of the day, if Obama is the nominee I know that they will support him. They will defend him and they will fight to make him the next president of the United States.

Because they will have no other choice, just like they didn’t have one in 1965.

Fear of the outcome can not dictate the nobility and the righteousness of this cause. Fear of the repercussions, of the racism that may come our way can not sway us. Ego and vanity, pride and cowardice can not cloud our judgment. Just as it was in 1965 it still remains today, we as black people must choose to either fight together or perish separately as fools. Jim Crow may not be alive today, but his ghost still lingers.

It’s time to vanquish that demon in all his many forms.

5 thoughts on “Fight Together

  1. Snob a large part of the equation was also the fact that though you may disagree w/some of Obama’s politics, the stuff coming out of the mouths of some CBC members was/is personal and just unacceptable.I have no problem w/folks being friends w/Hillary, what bothers me is when folks don’t put their “friends” in check.If I have a buddy that is out of control and doing things that demean them, it lessens me as well if I keep my mouth shut about it.The Clinton campaign has been bigoted, vicious and personal when it comes to “Barry”. Why haven’t her “friends” checked her?You can be on the wrong side of history and yourself as well.

  2. I agree, some of the CBC were a little ridiculous. And Andy Young’s “not his time” remarks were pretty galling considering, um, that’s what the “good” white folks told us about integration, and, well, everything else. So the behavior of some was very out of order. Lewis was one of the few people who told the Clintons to chill out with all the Jesse Jackson name dropping. I just know that these folks are going to get dragged into supporting Obama whether they want to or not. Once he’s the nominee they can’t say “not his time,” because it will be his time and they will have the choice to either fight for him or get the hell out of the way.I don’t see them continuing to subvert the will of her electorate otherwise they will find themselves without jobs in the near future. Every member of the CBC lives and dies by the black vote.

  3. They sure do and they’d best remember that when they cast their votes. I’m just glad to see some of us waking up snob. I include myself in the “us” because I was so disgusted and put off for the past decade or so, that I checked out.This election represents many things to many people & I’m glad to be alive to see it.

  4. The slave mentality in the John Lewis interview is mind boggling.. I thought this was why Lewis took that blow to the head and Rangel hung in there so long and Young walked with King for this very reality. .. He stated that the decision to switch from Clinton to Obama was harder than marching in the 60’s where he was bloodied, beaten..etc. WOW!! Is turning the gun on your master harder than shooting a fellow slave? I can’t believe the slave mentality of the ole guard & the CBC (Crab in a barrel Congress)The so called Old Guard are jealous that this uppity Black man had the balls, nerve, intelligence, aka the Audacity of Hope, to go straight into the Senate and then to a presidential bid in about 4-5 years without their permission. Black leaders who have never had leadership succession plans don’t support the very change that they have worked so hard to inspire. They’re more comfortable being on the Clinton plantation than striking out on our own and being empowered. It’s an old habit from the slavery days…breaking the chains of mental slavery figuratively, literally and MENTALLY.

  5. Gerald: I think Lewis, et al, suffer from a world view that many blacks who grew up during the 1960s and 50s are afflicted with. The hatred that they dealt with throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s was so strong that they still don’t trust the notion that whites in America will vote in Obama as the next president. They’re playing it safe.It’s typical for youth to want to be bold and take risks, but the old are protectionists, want to hold on to the ground they’ve gained and are afraid of rash change.When Lewis was young he was bold in the face of older blacks who grew up in the 20’s and 30s and said that getting beat to march was a fool’s mission and that no good would come of it. They were told that whites would kill us all rather than acknowledge our rights.Lewis didn’t listen because he was young and idealistic. Now that he is old he is the same as those people before him that said MLK was “crazy” and marching was futile. But slowly those elders back then were turned around and forced into history whether they liked it or not.While this is not a life or death matter like the movement of the ’60s, Lewis, Waters, Rangel, et al, will be turned around and forced to move forward for the sake of the whole.

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