#HometownChat – “Smart Community, Special Service, Civic Dreams”
History seems to have a way of repeating itself. That’s true when you consider the events leading up to and around another King Holiday. Some people are having flashbacks to the 60s with the number of ‘conscience rallies’ planned. Maybe Lincoln and King will have to step out of history to reset their story.
Lincoln moved America leaps and bounds to end the Civil War in the 1860s. King and the Civil Rights movement did their part for social justice in the 1960s. Lincoln is an idol for many politicians including president Obama. King holds high honor with many Americans, so too does Congressman John Lewis.
So after days of back-and-forth since 2017, there’s concern this is no time to get happy, but to get woke and huddle-up. We saw a southern American city try to re-name the King Holiday. Along with the John Lewis episode there were other surprise Twitter & SNL moments. What’s to come is anyone’s guess.
So as President Obama holds his final press conference, the goodbyes will be hard to swallow. But what if Obama were to invite Lincoln and King to the presser, how would they speak up and make it plain? They’d have four things to #LetThePeopleKnow as Obama’s set to go. We might hear them telling us to:
- Educate ourselves in communities of color and beyond on the 3Rs and other social issues.
- Elevate the broader public square to new levels of civic awareness.
- Evaluate the truth on who’s fooling who and who’s zoomin’ who (that’s right Queen Aretha).
- Escalate a commitment to change for the better (not just for PR or as a vote getter).
After the Civil War and Lincoln’s term ended, there was a ‘repeal & replace’ backlash that followed. Many newly elected officials didn’t want to appear supportive of progressive programs. This is like buying a new car and then having the HD radio removed because you don’t like the artist’s (Obama’s) name on display.
With new found freedoms and opportunities came a push to reverse them. Things went from a new normal to a new abnormal. So as time went on more HBCUs were started with renewed efforts to educate people on the 3Rs and their civic rights. Maybe Dr. King as a Morehouse Man would share this reminder.
Many years after the Civil War, the focus was also on elevating the broader public square to new levels of social awareness. What we know as Black History Month today started as a weeklong effort to inform and inspire. Some modern day history books have a way of leaving blanks or telling tales just to make sales.
One debate is whether Lincoln issued the Emancipation to save the union or free the slaves. This can take on a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario or go from truth to spin to lies in a few seconds. So in our current political climate Lincoln might have us think on who’s fooling who and who’s zoomin’ who then and now.
Often when candidates run on ‘change’ it’s fair to think change for the better, not just for PR or as a vote getter. History will assess this for our outgoing President as it will for the incoming. But when King said ‘I Have a Dream’ he also wanted us to see change as the ‘We’ from bottom up that moves the ‘I’ from top down. It’s how we might shine as ‘hidden figures’ through Community MRBs – Mission Ready Blocks, Mission Rhythm and Blues.
The post Civil War and post Obama eras seem to have some similar sketch-lines. What we see today as a fight against Obamacare was a fight then to stall Emancipation’s progress. What we see in the rise of certain ‘alt’ groups today was the rise of fringe groups then. Plus, we see the potential for gamesmanship in politics to overshadow the purpose of service in politics. The pendulum swing is real so what now?
Well, this is where Prez Obama would step back letting Lincoln and King take it to the bridge. Lincoln the politician might say ‘we must be a country that chooses to plant seeds over weeds.’ Weeds can overrun a lawn and make it look shabby. We must overspread the American landscape with less weeds and more seeds. The spreading of racism, sexism, xenophobia and the rise of false-reality news & views are a bad mix of weeds across the homeland.
King as the Baptist preacher might paraphrase words from the Apostle Paul reminding us that ‘you reap what you sow.’ And to add a common touch King might say ‘you can fool some of the people some of the times, but you can’t fool God none of the times.’ That’s true whether we’re regular folks or big timers.
Those who keep sowing social media weeds can’t expect to grow seeds of trust and respect. It’s when we choose to operate higher than this that we bring honor to the legacies of King and Lincoln. In due season, God can decide to harden, humble, hasten or hijack a man’s heart while steering us on another path.
Godspeed President Obama!
Groove-tracks: Ledesi – Higher Than This – https://youtu.be/I4yva8U-78U
Usher, Stevie Wonder, Shakira – Higher Ground – https://youtu.be/0PEPrPRAp4M