By JESSE WASHINGTON, AP National Writer Fri Aug 29, 4:48 AM ET
Long before Denver, the drum roll of history began: If Barack Obama could capture the Democratic nomination for president, he would deliver the biggest speech of his life exactly 45 years after Martin Luther King Jr.’s immortalI Have a Dream” address.
And so Obama accepted the nomination Thursday night standing on the shoulders of King and thousands of others who suffered and bled to give blacks the right to vote — yet Obama did not speak King’s name.
In only briefly paying homage to “a young preacher from Georgia,” Obama illustrated how much America has changed in those 45 years, and how much it has stayed the same. Yes, Obama could actually become the first black president of the United States — but he must somehow become raceless to do it.
Many older blacks who heard the historic speeches of both King and Obama are happy to pay that price.
“I think Dr. King would have been proud to have witnessed tonight’s events,” said Joseph McNeil, one of the four black students who started the 1960 desegregation sit-in at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C.
“No place in my mind, or I’m sure his, would we have imagined seeing so many people of all type of backgrounds rallying behind someone like us who had been denied full participation for so long,” said McNeil, who retired as a major general in the Air Force Reserves and lives in Hempstead, N.Y.
“The walls that (King and Obama) are trying to tear down are much different,” said Calvin Smyre, a 34-year veteran of the Georgia statehouse. “King was trying to tear down the walls of injustice. Obama is trying to build walls of opportunity.”
Yet others, while staunchly backing Obama’s candidacy, remain alarmed by his avoidance of all things racial as he seeks to mollify the white voters needed for victory.
“It looks like he’s running from history,” Dr. Cornel West, a professor of African-American studies and religion at Princeton University, said after the speech. “He couldn’t mention Martin, he couldn’t mention the civil rights movement, he couldn’t mention those who sacrificed and gave so much. It’s very, very difficult to actually create a new world if you don’t acknowledge the world from which you are emerging.”
Talk show host Tavis Smiley said that the deeper significance of King’s “Dream” speech and life’s work, which included aggressive demands to end poverty, inequality and the Vietnam War, had been pulled out of context.
“If we were being true to King’s dream, we’d be talking about poverty, how to eradicate it, and the long list of things that mattered to him,” Smiley said. “I just fear that his legacy will get glossed over.”
The Rev. Jesse Jackson said that King’s most famous speech was being “reduced to a sound bite.”
“For most Americans, August 28, 1963, was the dream speech day, and for them it’s like a happy day,” Jackson said. “That is a one-dimensional view of the risk and terror of that day.”
Terror, indeed. The 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom took place as Southern states fought violently to keep blacks as second-class citizens. Nonviolent protesters were being beaten, jailed and killed. Images of vicious police dogs and pummeling fire hoses helped galvanize world opinion in favor of the movement as the FBI waged an active campaign against King and other civil rights leaders.
Before the march, the National Guard was mobilized, paratroopers were put on alert and the Washington Senators postponed their baseball games for fear of riots. Yet calm prevailed among the 250,000 people who showed up to hear King and others speak.
Behind closed doors, there were bitter arguments as the speakers debated the balance of hope and anger that Negroes should show the world. But King kept his speech to himself until he stepped to the podium in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial to close out the day’s remarks.
He started by proclaiming the march to be “the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.” America, King said, “has given the Negro people a bad check, a check that has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’ But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.”
King’s message became urgent as he demanded immediate action, repeating that “now is the time” for real democracy, justice and equality. As he neared the end of his speech, King veered from his prepared text, began to improvise — and his dream took flight.
Forty-five years later, another black man seized the attention of the nation. After two of King’s children addressed the audience, Obama took the Denver stage protected by federal agents, not targeted by them. He spun a vision of America’s promise, not a bad promissory note. And he used King’s words, almost certainly deliberately, to proclaim repeatedly that “now is the time” for better access to education, energy independence, health care and equal pay.
Obama “offered a bridge to a new tomorrow,” said Robert W. Bogle, CEO of the Philadelphia Tribune, an African-American newspaper in Philadelphia. “I feel that he truly does offer hope for this nation for all Americans. Not some Americans. All Americans.”
In the early days of his candidacy, Obama frequently credited King and the civil rights movement for making his ascent possible. Now, to reach the summit, he must render them all but invisible.
Forty-five years later, Obama did not utter the words “black” or “African-American.” He said “McCain” 21 times, according to the transcript released beforehand. He said “American” 25 times and “promise” 32 times as he sought to create a new definition of, and a new path to, that immortal dream.
And not a damn thing about the trials that Dr. King and the millions of Civil Rights workers went through 45 years ago.
Not. . . .one. . . .damn. . . .word.
What’s the matter, Obama, too good to speak the name of Dr. King? If it was not for Dr. King, Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, Poinsettia Clark, Diane Nash, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, and so many, many unsung people who were the backbone of the Civil Rights Movement, you would not be where you are today.
The Civil Rights workers suffered much hell for you to get where you are, Sen.Obama.
But, you were not man enough to mention any of them. Too busy kissing up to the soon-to-go-to-them-with-your-hat-in-hand white working-class voters?
Oh, I forgot, only whites are working-class. Blacks, Native Americans, Asians, Latinos—–there is just no way in Hell they can be working-class. No such people exist.
But, back to the Civil Rights workers. You remember them, don’t you, or perhaps in your salivating desire to become Commander-in-Chief, you decided to completely ignore them, and their legacy.
You do remember what they endured for you to be where you are?
Dog attacks.
Church bombings.
Home bombings.
Oh, you don’t know any of their names? Well, here is just a partial list of the known men and women of the Civil Rights Movement whose lives paved the way for you to stand on their shoulders to jog your failing memory, Sen. Obama:
Some, but not all of the names below were Civil Rights workers. The Civil Rights Memorial was designed by Maya Lin, who also designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

From the Civil Rights Memorial
Southern Poverty Law Center

On the Civil Rights Memorial are inscribed the names of individuals who lost their lives in the struggle for freedom during the modern civil rights movement 1954 to 1968. Between the first and last entries is a space that represents civil rights heroes who died before or after this period and others whose stories were not known when the Memorial was created. The martyrs include those who were targeted for death because of their civil rights activities; those who were random victims of vigilantes determined to halt the movement; and those who, in the sacrifice of their own lives, brought a new awareness of the struggle to people all over the world.

May 7, 1955 Belzoni, Mississippi
REV. GEORGE WESLEY LEE, an NAACP leader and one of the first black people registered to vote in Humphreys County, used his pulpit and his printing press to urge others to vote. White officials offered Lee protection on the condition he remove his name from the list of registered voters and end his voter registration efforts, but Lee refused and was murdered.

August 13, 1955 Brookhaven, Mississippi
LAMAR SMITH was shot dead on the courthouse lawn by a white man in broad daylight while dozens of people watched. The killer was never indicted because no one would admit they saw a white man shoot a black man. Smith had organized blacks to vote in a recent election.

August 28, 1955 Money, Mississippi
EMMETT LOUIS TILL, a 14-year-old boy on vacation from Chicago, reportedly flirted with a white woman in a store. That night, two men took Till from his bed, beat him, shot him, and dumped his body in the Tallahatchie River. An all-white jury found the men innocent of murder.

October 22, 1955 Mayflower, Texas
JOHN EARL REESE, 16, was dancing in a cafe when white men fired shots into the windows. Reese was killed and two others were wounded. The shootings were part of an attempt by whites to terrorize blacks into giving up plans for a new school.

January 23, 1957 Montgomery, Alabama
WILLIE EDWARDS JR., a truck driver, was on his way to work when he was stopped by four Klansmen. The men thought Edwards was another man who they believed was dating a white woman. They forced Edwards at gunpoint to jump off a bridge into the Alabama River. Edwards’ body was found three months later.

April 25, 1959 Poplarville, Mississippi
MACK CHARLES PARKER, 23, was accused of raping a white woman. Three days before hls case was set for trial, a masked mob took him from his jail cell/ beat him, shot him, and threw him in the Pearl River.

September 25, 1961 Liberty, Mississippi
HERBERT LEE, who worked with civil rights leader Bob Moses to help register black voters, was killed bya state legislator who claimed self-defense and was never arrested. Louis Allen, a black man who witnessed the murder, was later also killed.

April 23, 1963 Attalla, Alabama
WILLIAM LEWIS MOORE, a postman from Baltimore and CORE activist, was shot and killed during a one-man march against segregation. Moore had planned to deliver a letter to the governor of Mississippi urging an end to intolerance.

June 12, 1963 Jackson, Mississippi
MEDGAR EVERS, who directed naacp operations in Mississippi, was leading a campaign for integration in Jackson when he was shot and killed by a sniper at his home.

September 15th, 1963 Birmingham Alabama
ADDlE MAE COLLINS, DENISE McNAIR, CAROLE ROBERTSON and CYNTHIA WESLEY were getting ready for church services when a bomb exploded at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, killing all four of the school- age girls. The church had been a center for civil rights meetings and marches.

September 15, 1963 Birmingham, Alabama
VIRGIL LAMAR WARE, 13, was riding on the handlebars of his brother’s bicycle when he was fatally shot by white teen-agers. The white youths had come from a segregationist rally held in the aftermath of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing.

January 31, 1964 Liberty, Mississippi
LOUIS ALLEN, who witnessed the murder of civil rights worker Herbert Lee, endured years of threats, jailings and harassment. He was making final arrange- ments to move North on the day he was killed.

March 23, 1964 Jacksonville, Florida
JOHNNIE MAE CHAPPELL, who cleaned houses to help support her family, was shot by four white men as she searched for a lost wallet along a roadside. The murder occurred during an outbreak of racial violence in downtown Jacksonville. Her story was not known when the Memorial was dedicated.

Apri17, 1964 Cleveland, Ohio
REV. BRUCE KLUNDER was among civil rights activists who protested the building of a segregated school by placing their bodies in the way of construction equipment. Klunder was crushed to death when a bulldozer backed over him.

May 2, 1964 Meadville, Mississippi
HENRY HEZEKIAH DEE and CHARLES EDDIE MOORE were killed by Klansmen who believed the two were part of a plot to arm blacks in the area. (There was no such plot.) Their bodies were found during a massive search for the missing civil rights workers Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner.

June 21, 1964 Philadelphia, Mississippi
JAMES EARL CHANEY, ANDREW GOODMAN, and MICHAEL HENRY SCHWERNER, young civil rights workers, were arrested bya deputy sheriff and then released into the hands of Klansmen who had plotted their murders. They were shot, and their bodies were buried in an earthen dam.

July 11, 1964 Colbert, Georgia
Lt. Col. LEMUEL PENN, a Washington, D.C., educator, was driving home from U.S. Army Reserves training when he was shot and killed by Klansmen in a passing car.

February 26, 1965 Marion, Alabama
JIMMIE LEE JACKSON was beaten and shot by state troopers as he tried to protect his grandfather and mother from a trooper attack on civil rights marchers. His death led to the Selma-Montgomery march and the eventual passage of the Voting Rights Act.

March 11, 1965 Selma, Alabama
REV. JAMES REEB, a Unitarian minister from Boston, was among many white clergymen who joined the Selma marchers after the attack by state troopers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Reeb was beaten to death by white men while he walked down a Selma street.

March 25, 1965 Selma Highway, Alabama
VIOLA GREGG LlUZZO, a housewife and mother from Detroit, drove alone to Alabama to help with the Selma march after seeing televised reports of the attack at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. She was driving marchers back to Selma from Montgomery when she was shot and killed bya Klansmen in a passing car.

June 2, 1965 Bogalusa, Louisiana
ONEAL MOORE was one of two black deputies hired by white officials in an attempt to appease civil rights demands. Moore and his partner Creed Rogers were on patrol when they were blasted with gunfire from a passing car. Moore was killed and Rogers was wounded.

July 18, 1965 Anniston, Alabama
WILLIE BREWSTER was on his way home from work when he was shot and killed by white men. The men belonged to the National States Rights Party, a violent neo-Nazi group whose members had been involved in church bombings and murders of blacks.

August 20,1965 Hayneville, Alabama
JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS, an Episcopal Seminary student in Boston, had come to Alabama to help with black voter registration in Lowndes County. He was arrested at a demonstration, jailed in Hayneville and then suddenly released. Moments after his release, he was shot to death bya deputy sheriff.

January 3,1966 Tuskegee, Alabama
SAMUEL LEAMON YOUNGE JR., a student civil rights activist, was fatally shot by a white gas station owner following an argument over segregated rest rooms.

January 10, 1966 Hattiesburg, Mississippi
VERNON FERDINAND DAHMER, a wealthy businessman, offered to pay poll taxes for those who couldn’t afford the fee required to vote. The night after a radio station broadcasted Dahmer’s offer, his home was firebombed. Dahmer died later from severe burns.

July 10, 1966 Natchez, Mississippi
BEN CHESTER WHITE, who had worked most of his life as a caretaker on a plantation, had no involvement in civil rights work. He was murdered by Klans- men who thought they could divert attention from a civil rights march by killing a black person.

July 30, 1966 Bogalusa, Louisiana
CLARENCE TRIGGS was a bricklayer who had attended civil rights meetings sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). He was found dead on a roadside, shot through the head.

February 27, 1967 Natchez, Mississippi
WHARLEST JACKSON, the treasurer of his local NAACP chapter, was one of many blacks who received threatening Klan notices at his job. After Jackson was promoted to a position previously reserved for whites, a bomb was planted in his car. It exploded minutes after he left work one day, killing him instantly.

May 12, 1967 Jackson, Mississippi
BENJAMIN BROWN, a former civil rights organizer, was watching a student protest from the sidelines when he was hit by stray gunshots from police who fired into the crowd.

February 8, 1968 Orangeburg, South Carolina
SAMUEL EPHESIANS HAMMOND JR., DELANO HERMAN MIDDLETON and HENRY EZEKIAL SMITH were shot and killed by police who fired on student demonstrators at the South Carolina State College campus.

April 4, 1968 Memphis, Tennessee
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., a Baptist minister, was a major architect of the civil rights movement. He led and inspired major non- violent desegregation campaigns, including those in Montgomery and Birmingham. He won the Nobel Peace Prize. He was assassinated as he prepared to lead a demonstration in Memphis.

A list of 41 civil rights workers:

In Mississippi:

Oh, I am sure you forgot the countless women in the movement who are always rendered invisible when people invoke the words,  “Civil Rights Movement”: 

_Ella Baker was a charismatic labor organizer and longtime leader i the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She believed the movement put too much emphasis on leaders,and she gave agency to the many young black college students to organize, rally and create their own agendas to address how they would bring about change in the Civil Rights Movement.

These young people’s oganization, under Ella’s direction and wonderful leadership,became known as S.N.C.C…..Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. From the untiring efforts of these young people, sprange the fabled Freedom Riders and Sit-in Movement (Lunch counters).

_Septima Poinsette Clark, often called the “Queen Mother” of the Civil Rights Movement, was an educator and N.A.A.C.P. activist decades before the nation’s attention was turned to racial equality.

Fannie Lou Hamer, a Mississippi sharecropper, was beaten and jailed in 1962 for trying to register to vote. She co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and gave a fiery speech at the 1964 Democratic Natioal Convention.

_Vivian M alone Jones, defied segregationist George Curley Wallace to enroll in the University of Alabama in 1963 and later worked for in the civil rights dividion of the U.S. Justice Department.

But, most women in the movement were not well-known, or acknowledged_then or now.

Most were “volunteers”_ women in the churches who cooked the meals and made sure all the preparations were made, women who cleaned up after the rallies and got ready for the next one. Women who were sincerely interested in making a difference—-women who were not looking for the publicity of it. Women who made a true difference that did not always come with a flourish of fanfare, but, sublime, and reserved dignity, all along knowing that what they did was right, and that what they did was for the greater good of all Americans.



Just a little reminder of how soon some people…like yourself…can forget all those who came before you and bequeathed a legacy of pride, resistance, and struggle against race hatred. Race hatred that still lives with us all.
Tell me, Sen. Obama, why did you run from the issue of race? You do know that race is more than just a social construct. You do realize that race affects everyones life in this country….yet you ran from addressing race like a coward.
Oh, I forgot… did that with your so-called, “Race  Speech”.
So, it’s nothing of a surprise that when you had the chance to speak on a subject that has long been swept under the rug for far too long, you took the timid and weak way out.
You want to sit in the Oval Office very much.
But, you can at least show some backbone on your way there.
Democratic National Convention
  • Photo Gallery

    Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., ...

    Fri Aug 29, 1:49 AM ET

    45 of 659
    Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., waves with his family and his running mate’s family after his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention at Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver Thursday, Aug. 28, 2008.

    (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)




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  1. Angie

    Oh Please! Yes Dr. King did mention judging people by the content of their character opposed to the color of their skin which included Senator Obama as well. Think about it.

    No thinking person on earth should have ANY doubts about whose President Ronald Reagan, and the Bush boys were. Bill Clinton tried to be a President to the American people. If Obama strives for anything less, he is doomed for failure.

  2. Ann

    “Oh Please! Yes Dr. King did mention judging people by the content of their character opposed to the color of their skin which included Senator Obama as well. Think about it.”

    And your point is. . . what?

    I spoke of Obama running from giving credit to Dr. King and the many Civil Rights workers.

    “No thinking person on earth should have ANY doubts about whose President Ronald Reagan, and the Bush boys were.”

    And they would not have been in office because so many Americans who voted for them had decided to commit a hate crime by putting people like Reagan, Bush into office.

    “Bill Clinton tried to be a President to the American people.”

    Really, after he also threw black people under the bus?

    “If Obama strives for anything less, he is doomed for failure.”

    We shall see if he is any better (or more of the same), after November 4, 2008.

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