Rev. Jesse Jackson, ‘Civil Rights Act Leads toward Hope & Healing’
Paul’s View Reminiscent of George Wallace
Rand Paul has opened his candidacy for the U. S. Senate from Kentucky by proposing a version of the character of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that is so toxic that it fouls the air of progress that’s been achieved since then in race relations. This version of race relations is consistent with those who have challenged President Barack Obama’s birth in this country, those who have created mystical definitions of his fight for universal Health Care as run by so-called “Death panels” and those who have challenged his loyalty to this country by calling him a Socialist.
Dr. Paul’s attitude which privatizes national human rights is a wishful look at the past rather than the future. He would return to an era of racial despotism rather than acknowledge that the Civil Rights movement empowered black as well as m any of his own potential constituents in Kentucky who are women, elderly, disabled and poor. Racial segregated dehumanized blacks and rendered their resources unequal to those of whites. We could not eat, vote, live, nor in many cases work in the same jobs as whites. Where I grew up, students became martyrs fighting for social change; I was jailed along with them. But we were right because the end result was that the moral authority established by this fight and its success helped to distinguished America from South Africa.
The 1964 act unleashed a different America, a new Kentucky where people could not only in the use of restaurants, but it allowed young people to play sports together, and Title 9 allowed women to gain some parity with men. Would they want to return to an era of racial separation and gender subordination? Not only was the stigma of being black, female, elderly or disabled removed, but the new South exchanged the cotton curtain for urban and industrial development. Presidents were elected from the South, the Olympics could be held there and professional teams could play there and bringing a new economic dimension to that region.
As Rand Paul constructs his campaign, this is an opportunity for him to serve his constituents in Appalachia, where thousands of them need good health care, and jobs that do not force them to do down into the death pits of unsafe coal mines. Paul must decide whether it is the past which serves his constituents best or the progress we have made toward developing a democracy that faces ahead.
His view is a throwback to a time when George Wallace stood in the way of social progress by being an icon of racial segregation. If his view of allowing private institutions to practice segregation is not to be the modern signature of the Republican Party and its Tea Party affiliates it should be repudiated at its “unity rally” this weekend.
Recent public opinion polls show that Rand Paul’s views on race relations may be so narrow and retrogressive that they do not represent most of his Tea Party associates. Because what makes Tea drinkable to most is the addition of sugar, and the ingredient of old school race relations that he proposes makes it exceedingly bitter. We can only hope that most Americans will take their Tea with the sugar of progress promoted by the 1964 Civil Rights Act which leads towards hope and healing rather than pain and ideological pollution.
The Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a progressive organization protecting, defending and expanding civil rights to improve economic and educational opportunity. The organization is headquartered at 930 E. 50th St. in Chicago. For more information about the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, please visit www.rainbowpush.org or call (773) 373-3366.