Has the USA lost its soul or was it always soulless?

A kid is getting on a freight train in the south of Mexico. Arriaga is the first stop for central american migrants on their way to the US.–Photo by Encarni Pinda.

The USA gained independence from England, arguing that “taxation without representation” was intolerable. Stealing land from Native American Indians and Mexicans, the country expanded its borders. Destroying black families through the scourge of slavery, raping slaves to create a free labor force and destroy black male pride, the USA became rich from the labor, land and livelihoods of disenfranchised people now viewed as the American underclass.

Some blacks celebrated Juneteenth, the official end of slavery, yesterday. Others declined, insisting that slavery is still alive and well, albeit in other forms. Even as racist Republicans obstructed former President Barack Obama during six of his eight years in office, bigots have risen up in droves with the election of the current US President. Blacks are being targeted for arrest and police abuse while engaging in the most routine activities–sitting in a coffee shop, trying to play golf, having a barbecue in a park  and taking a nap in the common room of a prestigious university.

During slavery, Jim Crow and even the Civil Rights era, blacks were treated as sub-human chattel. Raped, beaten and lynched with impunity, black residents of the United States of America were brutalized, often for white residents’ enjoyment. The anger that has festered among many Americans, who were incensed that a black man was elected president, has erupted into state-sanctioned lawlessness.

The debacle involving children separated from their parents at the border and housed in cages akin to concentration camps is no different from the Middle Passage and slavery, when black children were torn from terrified, broken parents. Africans were captured, packed like sardines on ships, some jumping overboard along the way while others died from diseases. Those who survived were shaved, shined with oil, examined publicly and auctioned off to wicked slave owners.

The trauma that the border children are experiencing will last a lifetime, much like black trauma in America has continued with no end in sight. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Too many immigrants have become complacent because they have made it, turning a blind eye to the plight of the children at the border, blacks in every facet of the American experience, Haitians who are cast off and a myriad of suffering globally. But, like late revolutionary firebrand Malcolm X often cried, “by any means necessary” the fight for human rights must go on.

The USA lost its soul many generations ago. In fact, one might rightly ask: Did the USA ever have a soul in the first place?–OnPointPress.net–

“Selma” is a fitting tribute to Dr. King’s legacy and 86th birthday celebrations

Dr king

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivering one of his many inspiring speeches.

On January 19, the third Monday in the month, the life, achievements and civil rights advocacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is celebrated on a holiday named for him. The civil rights icon, who spent his life protesting against injustice, would have turned 86 years old if he had not been killed in the prime of his life.

While the world pauses to honor his legacy with a national day of service, marches and other noble efforts, his three surviving children are embroiled in a vicious court battle to determine if his traveling Bible and Noble Peace Prize should be sold or remain in the family’s possession.

Oprah Winfrey appears in "Selma" which she produced; David Oyelowo stars as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ava DuVernay, co- writer and director of the film, which has received four award nominations so far.

Oprah Winfrey appears in “Selma” which she produced; David Oyelowo stars as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ava DuVernay, co- writer and director of the film, which has received four award nominations so far.

A fitting tribute to Dr. King’s enduring civil rights advocacy is embodied in the film “Selma,” which chronicles the challenges experienced by Dr. King and dedicated members of the civil rights movement in the spring of 1965 when they used nonviolent methods, in the face of brutality and murder to obtain he right to vote. Despite profound beatings, being arrested, atrocious indignities, deaths and the horrors experienced on Bloody Sunday, they marched, organized and protested peacefully, until they secured their important constitutional right to vote with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“Selma,” the first feature film about Dr. King, was directed by an African-American female and has been honored by the Golden Globes for its original song “Glory” sung by John Legend and rapper Common. However, the film has also attracted controversy as well as snubs by the Academy Awards, which nominated it for Best Original Song and Best Picture while ignoring the director, Ava DuVernay and actors, particularly the lead actor David Oyelowo, who brought the film to life.

selma

David Oyelowo, (center) and other cast members of the powerful film “Selma” which described the civil rights movement’s diligent quest to obtain voting rights in 1965.

President Barack Obama’s decision to host the cast at the White House for a screening of the critically acclaimed but Oscar snubbed historical drama “Selma” was a wise one. Also, the decision by Winfrey, DuVernay, Oyelowo and the other cast members of the film to stage a march across the same Edmund Pettus Bridge over which the civil rights leaders marched for 54 miles to Montgomery, Alabama and participate in a discussion in Selma on this historic day will go a long way in reigniting discussion and awareness about Dr. King, his legacy and his searing impact on the civil rights landscape.

No less important is Winfrey’s spectacular two-day weekend extravaganza honoring “The Legends who Paved the Way,” which aired on her network, OWN, on Sunday night and featured King’s daughter, Bernice King, who was a baby when he was killed.

One of Dr. King's most famous quotes is typically used as a battle cry against injustice.

One of Dr. King’s most famous quotes is typically used as a battle cry against injustice.

There are striking parallels to King’s leadership, passion and determination in standing strong in the face of ridicule and the emotions of current protestors who fight against the scourge of police brutality in our inner cities, particularly police officers killing unarmed African-American and Latino men with impunity.

But as Winfrey said: “These protestors today can learn a lot from the discipline shown by the participants of the civil rights movement. You have to know what you are protesting for and focus on that issue in order to achieve it.”

In 2010,, President Barack Obama, the nation's first African-American president, honors civil rights icon, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). Lewis, was beaten on Bloody Sunday and endured harsh treatment during his lengthy involvement in the civil rights movement which he joined as a teenager and at 20, was the youngest speaker at the March on Washington.

In 2010, President Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, honors civil rights icon, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). Lewis, was beaten on Bloody Sunday and endured harsh treatment during his lengthy involvement in the civil rights movement which he joined as a teenager and at 20, was the youngest speaker at the March on Washington.

Despite inequalities in housing, educational attainment, financial, political and social status, collectively African-Americans have made significant progress by utilizing the opportunities that have been gained through the sacrifices made by Dr. King, Rep. John Lewis, Ambassador Andrew Young, The Rev. Ralph Abernathy, the Rev. Joseph Lowery and countless others during the civil rights movement.

The right to vote exists today due to their foresight, commitment and fortitude. As we celebrate Dr. King’s birthday and legacy, let us also reflect on the benefits we enjoy today because of the sustained efforts of a group of individuals who refused to take no for an answer. Happy Birthday Dr. King. You showed that Black lives mattered then and activists are doing their best to show that Black lives still matter today-OnPointPress.net.