This weekend saw the commemoration of the Selma march in 1965. It was one of those pivotal moments in the struggle for civil rights for blacks in America. This is the kind of commemoration that should be free from modern-day politics, one in which all Americans can point to the positive changes that have been made in American society against racial animus.
That is the ideal. The practice was something else. First, it is a shame that Barack Obama should be the face of this commemoration. He has done more than anyone in the last six years to re-divide our nation along racial lines, turning every conceivable incident into a charge of racism.
I also watched a video of Obama giving a speech in 2007 in which he claimed that Selma is what gave rise to his father coming over from Kenya, marrying his mom, and giving birth to the man who would one day be president. There’s only one problem with that. Selma took place in 1965; Obama was born in 1961. I’ll let you figure out the problem.
There also has been a media theme that Republicans refused to take part in this commemoration. Not true. George Bush was prominent in Selma for this event. Here’s a picture showing his participation in the march.
You can see him and his wife, Laura, on the right. Yet when the vaunted New York Times, the supposed newspaper of record, put a photo of this re-created march on its front page, Bush was cropped out of the picture. Subtle hint?
But Bush was not the only Republican representative there. One of the co-sponsors of the event was Republican senator Tim Scott of South Carolina. Scott is a conservative black senator, elected in a state that once was the cornerstone of slavery and racism in the country. Isn’t that called progress?
A Republican congresswoman from Alabama was another co-sponsor. Others, including Republican Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, were also present. So the media theme is incorrect, and one can assume the inaccuracy was deliberate.
One also has to set aside history. The Republican Party began in 1854 as a result of disagreement with the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which opened the territories to the possibility of slavery. The Republican Party led the charge for the Reconstruction amendments to the Constitution that abolished slavery and opened up voting rights for blacks. Republican Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to have dinner with him in the White House, outraging Democrats everywhere. And the Republican Party supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in greater percentages than the Democrats. It was the Democrats who controlled the Southern states during the time of segregation. Probably the most racist American president was Democrat Woodrow Wilson.
But all of that is not relevant, I guess.
A couple more points to make about Obama’s participation. I can understand why he wants to be associated with this historic event, but let’s be honest. His mother was white and not subject to any racial animus. His father was from Kenya and had no real experience with American racism. His stepfather lived in Indonesia, again with no direct connection to the Civil Rights Movement. Obama himself grew up with all the privileges a young child could have—private school, scholarships to Columbia and Harvard. I doubt he faced any genuine persecution.
How about a different face for this commemoration? How about the niece of Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Alveda King? She suffered racism in her younger days. She remembers her uncle personally, unlike Obama. She is quite articulate. There’s a problem, though. Alveda King is a strong pro-life conservative. She doesn’t fit the current narrative. Too bad. She is more a representative of the Civil Rights Movement than Barack Obama ever will be.
We have come a long way. It’s time for those who continue to stir up racial strife to stop using the problems of the past for political gain today.