I live in a majority African-American community. My kids go to a school that is majority nonwhite. Much of my public health and violence prevention work is in African-American communities. It saddens me that so many white people genuinely fear the political and economic
ascendance ascent of African-Americans, exemplified by President Obama. This is a strange, but genuinely human fear that African-Americans will seek to avenge the legacy of slavery, segregation, and discrimination. That’s just not what’s in people’s hearts or in their heads.
What is in Glenn Beck’s heart and in his head–that’s another matter. He is speaking today, the anniversary of Dr. King’s I have a Dream Speech, at the Lincoln Memorial, seeking to “take back” America from God knows what. Forty-seven years later, the largeness of Dr. King’s vision, its fidelity to the best of America, utterly overshadows Mr. Beck’s strange and pathethic spectacle.
David Broder has a beautiful column today, recounting his own experience in Washington on that 1963 day. He concludes:
What became apparent, as the masses moved slowly along the Reflecting Pool and gathered before the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, was that if this was a mob, it was the most benign mob in history.
Even before a word was spoken — let alone the eloquent words that have echoed down through history — it had become absolutely evident from the people themselves that achieving civil rights would be the way to heal, not damage, the country.
I went back to the Star wondering what it was we had been afraid of. And I’ve remembered this many times since, when people have tried to teach us to fear certain things, such as someone else’s marriage or place of worship.
Sometimes the voices of decent moderates speak especially powerfully, to say: Enough.