Sunday, March 04, 2007

Weekend in Selma

When marchers in Selma, Alabama were being beaten on the Edmund Pettus bridge in March 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. was not with them. When he heard about the brutality, Dr. King suffered an “agony of conscience” for not being there. He had stayed in Montgomery for the Sunday services of his church.

He went to Selma the next week and, in the week after that, Lyndon Johnson made a passionate speech to Congress, which led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“Selma brought us a voting bill,” Dr. King later wrote.

This weekend, Hillary Clinton and Oback Barama were in Selma to commemorate that turning point in American history. They said all the right things.

But Senators Clinton and Obama should also recall what Martin Luther King did the following month. He spoke to 150,000 in New York’s Central Park denouncing the war in Vietnam against the advice of many of his supporters. Some felt his opposition to the war was diluting his efforts for civil rights. Others were so disturbed about “disreputable” protesters that Dr. King had to resign from the board of SANE, the leading anti-nuclear organization.

Back in Washington, the two Senators might reflect on that. What they do to stop the war in Iraq may not always be popular or politically profitable, but it will be as morally right as their visit to Selma.

1 comment:

Rosemary Welch said...

Dear Mr. Stein,
Although I disagree with you about the war, I think it is marvelous that you are writing what you believe. Keep up the great work, and don't ever let anyone discourage you. God bless you.