What would Dr. King do if he were alive today now that his "signature" accomplishment (Section 4 of The Voting Rights Act of 1965) which he fought and “died” for has been struck down by the Supreme Court? What would Dr. King think about the civil rights leaders of today? America (not just Black America) needs to take another look at the leadership that we entrust with the sacred task of gaurding the civil rights of the American People. For far too long we have witnessed the "decay" of our leadership, from honorable and selfless men and women of the people, to narcissistic "capitalist" who are for sale to any corporate interest willing to stack their pockets full of cash. Selling out to the highest bidder and not even considering the consequences of their actions.
The people we have at the helm of our top civil rights organizations are more like "money grabbing opportunist” than civil rights leaders, feathering their own nest while the masses of poor and disenfranchised people suffer under the yoke of a corrupt government stemming from the executive, legislative and (as we just witnessed today with the decision from the Supreme Court) the judicial branches of our government. The four (4) top civil rights organizations are (1) The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), (2) The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), (3) The National Action Network (NAN) and (4) The National Urban League (NUL). Back in 1965 when the landmark Voting Rights Act was signed into law by President Johnson, three of these organizations were very active in the human condition and the civil rights of Blacks in this country. However, today these organizations seem to be more interested in the rights of undocumented immigrants and the LGBT community. Although both worthy and honorable causes, Black men in this country are suffering unemployment and mass incarceration at a crises level. The National Action Network was not yet founded back in 1965, but I don’t believe that the organizations leader and founder, the Rev. Al Sharpton would have been warmly accepted back then with the corporate connections he has today.
Reverend Sharpton (in my opinion) is a “corporate” sponsored civil rights leader. Rev. Sharpton has a lucrative cable talk show and several lucrative “syndicated” radio talk shows. To put it bluntly, the Reverend Al Sharpton is a “millionaire” civil rights leader who used the tragedies in mostly poor Black communities to catapult himself into the lifestyle of an aristocrat. This is a “sin” against the poor people that trusted him to represent their interest. This is a man that sees no contradiction in demanding justice from corporate abuses (as he did in the Don Imus debacle) and peddling “penis” boosting pills for these same coporate interest on his radio shows. As the leaders of major civil rights organizations, they receive 6 or 7 figure salaries and collect income from sitting on the Boards of other Companies and Organizations. This wouldn’t be so bad if these organizations were actually getting things done. In the 60’s, these same organizations had less funding yet helped pass landmark legislation like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and they got a White President to support and sign these Bills into law. Today, these same agencies cannot even get a Black President to even “mention” the plight of Black folk much less force him to support, advocate and sign any bill into law that is centered around the Black condition. Furthermore, Police abuses, stop and frisk, unemployment and mass incarceration are worse than they were back in the 60’s. In fact, Black people are doing the same or worst than we were doing in the harsh times of Jim Crow. The civil rights leaders of the 60’s where men and women of “modest” means. Certainly, great orators as Dr. King and Malcolm X were, could have easily hosted television and radio shows and earned truck loads of money, yet, money was not the motive for their activism. I truly do not think that Dr. King would be impressed with the leadership of today. Dr. King deserves better, El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm X) deserves better. Medgar Evers deserves better. A Phillip Randolph deserves better. The spirit of the countless hero’s and shero’s of the civil rights movement deserves better. The American people deserve better.
Eric M. Deadwiley is a Freelance Op-Ed Columnist, Investigative Reporter and Author of "Civil Death in New York State, How New York State Utilizes Criminal Conviction Records to impede the Economic Growth of Formerly Convicted People"
Contact: Eric M. Deadwiley