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by Paul Hays
Thursday, Jul. 12, 2001 at 2:50 AM
Many of the new groups have cathchy names, a cellular telephone and maybe postcards of a mural that covers one wall. Regretably for the well-being of many they have ignored on purpose or out of slick pressures the teachings and history of an American Human Rights struggle: namely the battles for civil rights that were led by common people.
This appears to be the strategy: appear as multicultural and as in-tune as you can be but have no foundation when it comes to talk about the leaders of the protests that got millions of kids into California Universities and allowed illegal immigrants better and improved services.
Cesar Chavez, Hosea Williams, Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and others did give up while leading important sectors while others were quick to burn the neighborhoods down brick by brick, little bit here and a lot there. Luckily, leaders who continued to advocate non-violence had the smart help of Robert Kennedy and officials with the UAW of America to some degree and in those days a little meant a lot.
Watts for example had a bitter riot in 1965 that compares with the burnings in Jakarta Chinatown 1998, Kosovo vs. Milosvevic or current day England with scores of people armed to the teeth with racism and other deadly weapons putting 60 police officers in the hospitals.
Today activists have to sit through French Telephone Company Advertisements and people from right-wingers to communists who want to be known as the inheritors of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's hard writings, hard working and hard strategies. Hard-so hard, you know he was going to 200 cties and towns a year.
These leaders, many of whom were democratic socialists in some ways were not simple, but what makes this study so shocking is that many activists today do not even own a copy of some of the books about the human rights struggle of 3 and 4 decades ago. Ask them to recite a timeline of some of the major events...if they can't tell them where the nearest summer school is, tell them what bus goes there and ask them to enroll today.
Our hair may be gray, but the issues are just as riveting and down home people better find ways to meet and keep the corn bread cookin. Your mama knew, her papa knew-know you go out and learn. Then share it.
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