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Black Folks Wake Up!
9/11/2013 12:57:11 PM

By Barney Blakeney

I’m impressed that so many Black Americans saw the importance of commemorating the 1963 March on Washington’s Poor Peoples’ March. Black folks from around the country converged on the nation’s capitol as a signal that the goals espoused by those marchers in 1963 still are unmet 50 years later.

That tens of thousands of Black people attended the march tells me not all Black people are asleep dreaming the dream Martin L. King Jr. spoke about in his famous speech at the 1963 march.

King made the speech famous, but the dream is one Black folks have been having repeatedly for centuries.

I recently learned from some info sent by Rev. Joseph Darby, that King actually borrowed some key points in his speech from one made more than a decade earlier by Rev. Archibald J. Carey Jr. of Chicago, Ill. who delivered a similar admonition at the Republican National Convention in 1952.

Both men understood that freedom and equality in America is just a dream. To my brothers and sisters I say, wake up from the dream!

I read where the number of Black folks attending the 1963 commemoration March on Washington represented only about one-fifth the number of Black folks participating in the original march. That tells me a lot more Black folks are asleep now days.

Since 1963 Black folks have moved from the back seat of the bus to the driver’s seat and have fallen asleep at the wheel. And while some Black children have taken a seat next to white students at public schools, full public schools integration in Charleston County never has existed.

This year we in the local community also commemorate the 1963 integration of James Simons Elementary School. After children return to the new James Simons facility in October the racial demographics of that school’s student population and staff will look very much as it did on 1963 - a few Black kids in a predominantly white environment.

In Charleston County most students either attend all Black schools, all white schools or predominantly white schools. There are only a few of the county’s 80 or so schools where the bLack and white student ratio is about equal. Full integration in Charleston County public schools never has existed. Again I say, Black folks, wake up from the dream.

You know Black folks are sleeping when more of us attend music concerts than vote in political elections.

Thousands of Black folks spent an average 50 bucks a pop to attend jazz and R&B concerts in this town over the past couple of weeks. But only 5,000 went to the polls to vote in one of the most important political elections we’ve faced in decades.

To borrow from my fellow Knoxville College alumnus George Curry, Black folks should wake up and look at what Martin King Jr. was doing when he made his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech rather than repeating what he said.

King was about organizing Black folks to focus on and address the disparities in our society. He came together with the brightest minds in the Black community to find ways to mobilize people for their collective betterment.

Our best minds today are lulled to sleep by the comforts of materialism. As Rev. Darby said in a recent midweek meditation, we should seek the best life has to offer, but we must not forget there is a higher power that guides us to also seek what’s right.

I was talking to a friend last night about treacherous Black politicians who use their public office more for personal gain than constituent service.

After 50 years since the March on Washington, there’s no rational reason why Blacks in America have not achieved more. The only reason I can think of for Black folks to be experiencing so much crime in their communities, such a high rate of unemployment and disparities in health, education and wealth is because we have fallen asleep.

If we Black folks are not careful, we’ll sleep our way right back into a second Jim Crow era. Our political power is being dissipated, our economic power is being usurped, our social and cultural consciousness is being undermined. And we’re sleepwalking.

Black folks, it’s time to wake up from the Dream.

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