Last Saturday in Los Angeles, my friend of 50 years, Harry Belafonte, was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, an honorary Oscar. And yesterday, while we were savoring this good news, the White House announced that James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schewerner would be posthumous recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Community and civil rights organizations are exhorting African American voters to go to the polls in the mid-term elections by pointing out that when African Americans don't vote they get outcomes like Ferguson, Missouri. Republicans think that reference to Ferguson is "inflammatory." It's not the least bit "inflammatory."
For the first time in 13 years, the DOE now makes clear that states, school districts, and schools must make education resources equally available to all students without regard to race, color, or national origin. This is some of the unfinished business of the civil rights movement and a giant step forward for poor children, often children of color.
If white Mississippians can identify with, embrace and cheer deliriously for teams that are 82 percent (Mississippi State) and 75 percent (Ole Miss) black, is it too much to hope that they might bring themselves to at least stop hating and show a modicum of respect to a president who is 50 percent black?
The election of Barack Obama was the Lexington and Concord in the latest great battle of race in America. We are a nation at war with itself. For all of our desire to move beyond the narrow confines of many of the events of our tragic history, we cannot. The president's election gave new life to what had been lying dangerously dormant for the better part of 50 years.