I ain’t marching anymore


As much as I can see a good point in observing the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march at which Martin Luther King delivered his historic “I Have A Dream” speech, I don’t think I’d participate in today’s commemorative march — even if it was convenient for me to do so, which it is not.

It’s a matter of me not wanting other people to co-opt my right of free speech and free assembly.

Back in the 1960s, when I was an angry young man, I took part in more than a few civil rights and antiwar demonstrations in New York, Washington, Chicago and numerous smaller cities and towns. My friends and I sometimes would drive all night to get to our protest destinations. We were brimming with idealism and a sense that we could make a difference in this world.

After a while, however, I became increasingly uncomfortable with some of the rhetoric spewed by speakers at these events or with some of the sentiments expressed in chants or on signs among my fellow marchers. I eventually came to the conclusion that the only good protest marches are those that are narrowly focused on specific causes and devoid of radical speechifying, sign-toting and mindless chanting.

Even if I were a right-winger who feels that taxes are way too high and the government way too large and socialistic, I would never participate in a Tea Party rally. I wouldn’t want to imply my agreement with some signs toted by idiots or speeches delivered by overwrought zealots.

With all this in mind, my favorite march was one in which I participated in my hometown of Freeport on April 7, 1968, three days after the assassination of Dr. King. A sizable group of white and black folks silently marched along the main drag from the city’s East Side to the steps of the Stephenson County  Courthouse. There were no chants or signs — just the sounds of marching feet. At the courthouse, there were no radical speeches — just prayers from clergymen.

In the absence of  some future opportunity like that one in Freeport 45 years ago, I ain’t marching anymore.


1 Comment

  1. You? An angry young man? I am shocked.

    Here is another opinion on the topic from an interested observer. I encourage you to read the entire link. A small excerpt is pasted below.


    If King could be resurrected and see what was going on in America today, I suspect he would be extraordinarily pleased by many of the things he observed and disappointed by others. He, like almost everyone else, would be thrilled to know that there was a two-term black president of the United States of America and a black attorney general, as well as many other high government officials, business executives and university presidents.

    Perhaps just as thrilling would be the sight of black doctors, lawyers, airline pilots, construction foremen, news anchors, school superintendents and almost any other position imaginable in America. The fact that seeing blacks in such positions no longer raises eyebrows is a testimony to the tremendous progress that has been made in America over the last 50 years.

    There are some areas, however, where I suspect he might be less than thrilled. The epidemic of black-on-black violent crime indicates that there has been a significant deterioration of values in the black community. Not only are the lives of their fellow blacks and others being devalued by street thugs, but the lives of unborn babies are being destroyed in disproportionate numbers in the black community.

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