Originally Published at The Grio
Used with Permission on Independent Underground News & Talk
By: David Alexander Bullock
|Photo Credit – The Grio.com|
” This was a war against poverty and for hope. He would try to, in the words of Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., “Keep hope alive.”
He sensed, as President Barack Obama did in 2008, that Americans might have the audacity to let hope in consensus and the constitution guide our politics and public policy. He would fail to annihilate poverty. He was bound to fail. However, his war on poverty would create a politics that made economics the most important domestic issue trumping social issues like desegregation and race. His new poverty politics would save America from deep social disruption and the union from complete destruction.
President Kennedy would have to send the National Guard to put down the mad dog of segregation. Wallace was a loud voice of a strange freedom, but he was not the lone rebel. Others in Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana and across the Deep South were entrenched. His speech was a token of the coming challenges of 1963 to the existence of a liberal establishment, a strong federal government and a United States of America.
The 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham was bombed in September of 1963 killing four young girls. President Kennedy was assassinated in November of 1963. There was a growing sense across racial lines and around the nation that America was dangerously close to a race war. National morale was low. As Malcolm X talked of an incurable racism and roosting chickens, it seems the battle lines had been drawn and few had hope in the possibility of a free, equal and just United States of America bound by a trust or hope in shared values and fair procedures.
Blue collar whites should not see blacks, liberal elites or the federal government as the enemy, blacks should not see whites, courts and government as the enemy. Southern states rights defenders shouldn’t see desegregation as encroachment. Liberals shouldn’t see foreign affairs as the most important matter. America shouldn’t see black integration as a bad, but as a good. Poverty was the enemy. It was America’s real threat.
President Johnson said, “Poverty is a national problem. It must be supported by state and local efforts. It cannot be won in Washington. It must be won in the field in every private home, in every public office from the courthouse to the White House.”
D. Alexander Bullock is pastor of Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church. He is also the founder and national spokesperson for the Change Agent Consortium (CAC) – a coalition of faith, labor, civil rights organizations and active citizens. CAC combines the best of the protest tradition (direct action) with economic empowerment, community development and community organizing to effect real change and real solutions. Follow on Twitter: @DAlexanderB.
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