One day after President Trump falsely and absurdly boasted that he has done more for Black Americans than any president except Abraham Lincoln, thousands of protesters gathered in Washington to demonstrate against America’s systemic racism that Trump exploits for political gain.
The aptly named Get Your Knee Off Our Necks March — evoking the brutal murder of handcuffed Black man George Floyd by a White Minneapolis police officer who knelt on the helpless Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes on Memorial Day — was held Friday, exactly 57 years after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led a March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963.
King, like Floyd, was a murder victim — assassinated in 1968 at only 39 years old. On the March on Washington that he led in 1963, he captured America’s imagination with his stirring “I Have a Dream” speech calling on our nation to live up to the words of the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.”
A year later King was instrumental in working with President Lyndon Johnson (who did far more for Black Americans than Trump) to enact the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Right now, in the age of Trump, America is sharply divided.
On one side, Trump screams about “law and order” but ignores the racial and social inequities impeding America from reaching its promise of being a more perfect union. He seeks to divide Americans against each other — denouncing protests against racism that have sometimes turned violent, and stoking fears of white suburbanites that their communities will be destroyed by low-income housing (code for an invasion of dangerous Black people).
On the other side stands a group of individuals who Dr. King called a Coalition of Conscience — Americans of all races committed to making this nation more just, fair and equitable for everyone living here.
This Coalition of Conscience is what is truly leading the way to Make America Great Again — not the forces of division that Trump seeks to mobilize as he desperately struggles to win reelection.
Trump is faced with a coronavirus pandemic that he has horribly mismanaged and that has claimed the lives of more than 182,000 Americans, and an economy in shambles due to shutdowns to combat the spread of COVID-19. So the president know he needs another issue to mobilize maximum voter turnout by his base
Friday’s March on Washington was about strengthening the continued commitment of the American people to making our country a more just and equitable nation for all of us.
Trump has settled on fearmongering to pave his way to another four years in the White House. His argument to voters — which makes no sense, when you think about it — is that the increased crime and protests that have turned violent under his watch can only be stopped by reelecting him.
The president tells us that absolutely nothing that goes wrong while he is in office is his fault, ridiculously claiming he has accomplished more than any president in American history in his first term. He demonizes Democratic presidential nominee and former vice president Joe Biden as somehow being responsible for all of America’s ills, and predicts disaster if Biden is elected president.
But Donald Trump is not the Great American Hero he pretends to be. The heroes are people like those who showed up for the March on Washington on Friday, marching our nation forward.
These brave Americans are willing to stand up and fight back nonviolently against unjust laws and policies, even if those laws have no bearing on their own lives.
They are the mothers who stood between unidentified law enforcement officers in Portland, Ore., and peaceful protesters.
They are the West Virginia educators who put themselves and their livelihoods on the line when they walked out of their classrooms in 2017 for better school conditions for vulnerable students and families.
Over the past couple of months, we have heard numerous people quote Dr. King and try to bend his words in their favor. However, the truth remains that if King were alive today, he would be in the mighty Coalition of Conscience opposing Trump and fighting for justice.
During his address on that sweltering August day in 1963, King was crystal clear on what was necessary to make America more just: an end to police brutality and racism.
The great civil rights leader told us 57 years ago that “as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, ‘When will you be satisfied?’ We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality…. No, no we are not satisfied,…