March 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historic protest march across the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where scores of Black women, men and children were viciously beaten by the local police force for demanding their civil rights as U.S. citizens.
The weekend commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Selma march was kicked off with a speech by President Barack Obama on March 7th. With picture-perfect scenery of the Edmund Pettis Bridge and mountains in the background, President Obama gave an eloquent speech which touched upon the fissures occurring in America that are tearing at the fabric of society, and concluded by waxing poetically in rhythmic, gospel-ish tones, his rendition of Reverend Dr. King’s so-called “I Have a Dream” speech.
President Obama spoke on the issues of the Ferguson, Missouri Rebellion, of police killings of unarmed Black males, of mass incarceration, of the evisceration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and ended by urging Black people to simply vote as a solution to these problems and more.
Many Africans in America that even bothered to listen to Pres. Obama’s speech, took it as an insult, since it is Black people who have “voted” him into the presidential office twice, and it is Black people who are also protesting in nearly every city across America to end institutional racism in government, to end police killings of unarmed Black males, to end the War On Drugs and a racialized mass incarceration, and to end voter suppression.
While Africans in America are being the agents of change that Pres. Obama talks a good game about being in America, Pres. Obama sits on his hands and does nothing about those issues, except continue to give lofty yet hollow speeches.
Just think about it, Pres. Obama simply instructs Black people to vote as their salvation in this country, despite the fact that Black people have been voting Democrats into public office since around 1960, and have had none of our issues addressed by them since 1965. Despite that the Black peoples’ collective interests aren’t even considered under America’s white majority ruled government. Despite that the U.S. Supreme Court Justices threw away the votes of African Americans of Florida and stole the presidential elections in 2000, have allowed multi-billion dollar corporations to purchase elections in the case of Citizens United, and have gutted Section
4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the case of Shelby County, Alabama. And despite that wealthy, right wing elements in America have been waging unrelenting attacks to suppress voting of the poor.
Nevertheless, Pres. Obama simply instructs Black people to vote, as if voting is a cure-all solution to America’s problem of poverty, racism and war, of which Black People and the poor are most affected.
Pres. Obama’s speech in Selma, Alabama boiled down to nothing more than a deceptive attempt to sell American Exceptionalism, U.S. Patriotism, more Dreams and more Hope to Africans in America on the 50th Anniversary of the Selma march to keep Black people under control and from seeking sovereignty in the face of increasing poverty, institutional racism and a rising fascist police state.
I am Kerry “Shakaboona” Marshall, Co-founder and Editor of The Movement human rights magazine, Prison Radio Correspondent, Child Lifer prisoner and can be reached at: SCI-Rockview, #BE7826, Box-A, Bellefonte, PA 16823.
Thank you for listening.