When we, especially us in the South, get bogged down in political and emotional debates about whether or not we should have diversity in our public schools . . .
Whether we should be segregated or integrated? . . .
Whether we should have high concentrations of poverty in certain schools?. . .
Whether we should have high concentrations of one race or another in certain schools?
Maybe we should be reminded of the dark and ugly past, the road we’ve come from and not want to return to in any form or fashion.
I want you to listen to the final words of the General Counsel of the NAACP, Thurgood Marshal. Close your eyes as he closed his argument before the Supreme Court, 56 years ago. He was arguing for our children, who walked by their neighborhood schools to go to the segregated colored schools across town. He was arguing against the failed philosophy that had been the law of the land since 1896. The Separate but Equal policy. Marshall spoke of the strangeness of the thinking that under-girded the policy of segregation . . . of anti-diversity.
Full text of Rev. Dr. William J. Barber’s Speech at Health Reform Rally at State Capitol in Raleigh, August 29, 2009.
If my people who are called by my name would humble themselves, pray and turn from their wicked ways then will I hear from heaven and heal the land. (2d Chronicles 7:14)
We are here today because we need a healing in the land. We need those who want to perpetuate a sick health care system that is not for everybody and does not cover everybody to turn from their wicked ways. We are here today because we need a healing in the land.
It is ironic that 74 years ago in this same month of August, President Franklin Roosevelt was fighting to secure and sign the Social Security Act. Even then, the precursors of today’s forces of greed, selfishness, fear, and division were fighting him, and fighting reform and progressivism in America. They called it “socialism.” That’s what they said about Social Security. They said it would break America. They said that everybody should not be included.
In fact, these attacks weakened the first Social Security Act. The forces of greed, selfishness, fear, and division fought so hard, and bought so many souls, they forced coverage for the mostly Black, Hispanic and poor domestic and farm workers to be taken out of the Act before it was passed. It took 19 long years for these Americans to finally be covered when they turned 65 –if they made it to 65.
The forces of greed, selfishness, fear, and division have a long history of promoting a divided America. They are good at it. They are loud at it. And they are consistent at it.
But today we gather to say they have had their say. Now it is time for us who believe in a United America, a caring America, a compassionate America to speak up.
Deuteronomy 15: For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land. And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee. And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing to day.
Acts 10: But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
The Bible is clear that we must not be a community that mistreats people based on differences. If anything, Deuteronomy calls on us to remember that we are all immigrants one way or another. We are all different but we are all creations of God. The Book of Acts teaches us that we cannot call other people dirty, trashy, and unclean when from one blood God made all people.
We cannot call unclean what God has made. How can we put our hands on the Bible when we are sworn into public office and not try to live by what the pages say?
One North Carolina is the call of our state whether we are black, white, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American. We are a part of one North Carolina. For our dear sheriff, or any elected official, to say what has been said about a whole nationality of people and to do it in a moment of thoughtful reflection, not in a blurp, is a violation of public office. We call on Sheriff Bizzell, as an act of love for him, to resign.
We in the Civil Rights community had deep and stark differences with Senator Jesse Helms’ public policy positions. He opposed fundamental constitutional rights and the implementation of civil rights protections.
But we are all human. Senator Helms was a member of the human race, the human family, and as moral people, we are required to love even those who oppose us. We pray for his family and those he leaves behind in bereavement.
When will our Government -- our Governor, Council of State, Legislature, Criminal Justice System, and the Courts -- face the facts that every thinking person knows are true? Our criminal justice system discriminates against Black men.
Just a few weeks ago another Black man barely escaped execution by our State Government because of gross mistakes and prejudice in our criminal “justice” system. That makes three North Carolina Black men in the past five months who, but for the grace of God, would have been wrongly executed in our name.
How long will we let these injustices in our name continue? When will we say Enough?
Must we expose wrongful convictions, wrongful appellate decisions, wasted decades on death row for Black men every month? Every week? When will we say Enough?
Helping to Build a New Progressive Movement in North Carolina
'We' Is the Most Important Word in the Social Justice Vocabulary. The issue is not what we can't do, but what we CAN do when we stand together. With an upsurge in racism/hate crimes, criminalization of young black males, insensitivity to the poor, educational genocide, and the moral/economic cost of a war, we must STAND together now like never before.'