When James A. Young was a child growing up in Philadelphia, Mississippi, his father would sleep on the sofa in the family's living room with a shotgun on his chest because the Klan was always nearby. Today James A. Young, age 53, is the mayor of the small town. The town is best known as the place where the where the killings of Civil Rights workers Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney were murdered for trying to register African Americans to vote. The events of that June 21, 1964 summer are long gone, but the memory is still there.Sadly Republicans like George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan have held significant events in Philadelphia. Their acts were to signal to their White Southern base that they honor the racist history of the south. Today, the tide turns with the election of Young, but the problems still linger across America where Blacks lag behind in justice, employment and education. In my opinion this gap exists by design.
In spite of the design to keep Blacks at the bottom of the economic and social well, we still rise. This week, the world was told that in addition to James A. Young becoming Mayor of Philadelphia, Ms. Ursula Burns became the President of one the world's largest corporations - XEROX. Burns becomes the first African American female to head up a large Fortune 500 Corporation. Burns, who is 50, has been with Xerox since 1976 as a sales person and has steadily worked her way to the top, proving the old adage that hard work, talent and perseverance pays off.
The message from both these role models is while: "God may not come when you want him, he is always on time." Both of these achievements came within one year of the election of 47 year old Barack Obama as President of the United States. How timely is that?
While these extraordinary events are happening Blacks are aware that there are events happening that tell us there is still work to be done. This past week I was in court representing one young White male who was being charged with a misdemeanor for holding a party at a theater in South Pasadena. The young man who goes to John Muir High School in Pasadena discovered that many of his Black friends could not afford to go to their Senior Prom. Instead of going out begging for the money he and his friends decided to hold a dance to raise the money. The group chose a theater which is located in South Pasadena. The event went off without any problems. As the young people were leaving the party, they were confronted by South Pasadena Police Officers and San Marino Police Officers. The young man who arranged the party was the only White person there, and he was cited for doing business without a business license for the party. The Theater manager was also cited for allowing the party without a business license.
Historically, White folks have had parties at this theater without a business license, and they continue to do so all the time, and they don't risk having their life messed up with a misdemeanor conviction. It seems to me that racism is the reason for this arrest. The message to the White kid is clear, "Don't be bringing all those Blacks into South Pasadena."
Ironically, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were White students in Philadelphia, Mississippi when they were killed for helping African Americans. Now this! This event comes on the heels of President Obama being denied an honorary Doctorate by Arizona State University even though he was the invited commencement speaker. Of course it was significant that Arizona was the last state to approve a Martin Luther King Holiday.
This week in American history will also be remembered as the week that Dick Chaney attacked President Obama's plans in keeping America safe. But then we must never forget that Chaney was once an official for America and voted to keep Mandela in Prison.
Arizona eventually lost the battle to keep King's birthday from becoming a holiday. Chaney lost the battle to keep Mandela in prison. And in spite of Chaney's antics of riding in a wheel chair at Obama's inauguration rather than standing in honor of Obama's accomplishments, Obama is the President and Chaney is an ugly voice crying in the wilderness trying to stop the tides of change in the world.
I note that Andrew Chaney was the only Black person killed in the events of June, 1964 in Philadelphia, Mississippi and that Dick Chaney is also a far removed cousin of Barack Obama. Maybe he's trying to hide his family ties. Surely he "doth protest too much. "
Chaney and those people in South Pasadena need to read the scriptures and they will discover that nothing can stop the hand of God. And while he may not come when you wanted him to in Mississippi in 1964, or to South Africa in 1990, or to Arizona in the 80's, He is always on time.