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1DrTellisChapman

Despite the crippling conditions that we may find ourselves in, there is still the positive possibility for things to change. Irrespective of a history that once hampered, or a present predicament that may seem to impede progress, or for that matter a future that looks inauspicious,  and unfavorable, sometimes something happens that proves all over again that things can change for the better. 

But in America, they only get better by force, complaint, protest, or otherwise, an organized public demonstration that expresses strong objection to public policy and actions adopted by people of authority. 

The 50th Anniversary Freedom Walk in the city of Detroit on June 22, commemorating the initial and now iconic “I Have A Dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a descent indication of that objection, in that we are still dreaming...50 years later. 

While tens of thousands walked down Woodward Avenue from Forest St. to Hart Plaza, side by side and hand in hand with blended voices, occasionally, there was still that familiar civil rights theme song significantly reverberating and resounding throughout the crowd, “We Shall Overcome.” 

In 1963, 50 years prior to our commemorative walk down Woodward, Governor George Wallace of Alabama exclaimed, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.’ 

And five decades later, there is still the blatant and damnable disposition of racism, anti-semitism, sexism, classism, homophobia, Islam-a-phobia, and systemic forces of segregation that’s no longer displayed with the velocity of fire hoses, the bites of police dogs, twirling police batons and posted placards. 

But through a carefully crafted covert collaboration of greed-stricken race-bated, anti-democratic governance, against which we still have to fight, and against which we still have to march and protest, even in the city that put the world on wheels. 

Most of us are proud and praising as to how things change. There was a time when people who looked like me were not allowed to participate in the patriotic process of American politics. 

Though barred from economic opportunity, equity and equality, we eventually saw our faces on TV and in the public square, but only characterized in servant roles; classified as second class citizens; could not vote; could not occupy positions of power or policy-making decisions; and never thought that one, among so many, would come from so far behind, and against all odds, and yet emerge as a two-time president of the most powerful nation on the planet, 50 years after George Wallace. 

This only happens when people of every race, class, and faith come together — African Americans, White, hispanic, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and Jews — in organized public demonstration, and express strong objection to public policy and actions adopted by people of authority who still want us to keep dreaming. 

To be candid, songwriters, speech writers and editors of history continue to keep Dr. King’s speech as a poetically circumscribed communication. But the true essence of that speech, along with so many others of his, was, “A Call to Consciousness.” 

It was a speech  that first echoed in the historic Cobo Hall that challenged all of America to wake up and live and work together in peace. It was a protest that emphasized that no single human being, or group of human beings, is any better or higher than any one else. Humanity has no superiors or inferiors. We are all equal. Our destiny is interwoven. 

There is no better race. There are no best minds. And there are no entitlements to certain people because of the culture that produced them. However, history has presented quite a few others who erroneously embrace a totally different tenet. They have sipped on a rather archaic brew that has affected their thoughts and temperament, and has led them to believe that because of the color of their skin, their ethnicity, their social class, their genetic construct, cultural setting, or their political party alignment, that they are privy to exploit at will. This is all indicative of a mindset that is yet stuck on mundane methods and matters; post Civil War-plantation-1940s, 1950s and 1960s-master-servant kind of thinking. 

Where was the emergency financial manager during the March? Is he not a recipient of the sacrifice of Dr. King and others who fought and died for his civil rights? Where was the lame duck session-back-door-dealing governor on this historic day? Could he not face a crowd whose democracy he has stolen? Where were the conspicuously missing City Council members who were perhaps too young and unattached to have marched 50 years ago, but have become  too unpopular to even express a gesture of gratitude to their forefathers by taking just a few steps with fellow Detroiters? 

Where were the vestured pastors whose parishioners are victims of the diabolical deeds of those  who occupy public office? Do they not know that by their apathy they indirectly participate in the conspiracy to repress and suppress our democracy? Are they yet that impervious to the takeover of Detroit? Do they yet have no political courage? Was Rev. C.L. Franklin and Dr. King, organizers of the 1963 march, not fellow preachers? 

Our contemporary civil rights pioneers were there — protégés and contemporaries of Dr. King, including Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Dick Gregory, Tony Brown, Congressman John Conyers, and chief organizer of the Commemorative March, Rev. Wendell Anthony, just to mention a few, who took it personally enough to honor history and challenge the future, by marching...again. They had no problem walking the heat-laden landscape on a sun-baked day to say to Detroit and to America, we’re still dreaming. 

Fifty years ago, in that same “I Have A Dream” speech, Dr. King demonstrated the practical way to freedom and democracy and declared, “This political disposition and social cancer will only be defeated through determined pressure.” 

Talk is cheap. Unprofitable professions and proclamations of all to many who say one thing and do another, doesn’t help the cause.  People who only utter empty, hollow, fruitless, and empty articulated commitments are still in “the ‘dream.”

We must be determined to exhibit a determined pressure, that we may preserve the great changes in our history, and for that matter, our future,  and to keep following generations from repeating history and digressing into another era wherein people of minority-ranks run the risk of becoming further exploited, manipulated, and taken advantage of by the sordid, sinister, and satanic systems of society. 

We have to indeed exhibit a determined pressure! We’re all on common ground. We can live together. We can work differently. We can worship together, and we can walk together, because God has put us all here together. 

In the words of James Weldon Johnson, “Let us march on till victory is won.”

New Listings

1. Fellowship Chapel U.C.C.
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    Telephone: (313)347-2820
    First Name: Wendell
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