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We Cannot Walk Backward Through History

A Socially Speaking Commentary from Perry Redd

A Socially Speaking Commentary from Perry Redd

The Other Side of the Tracks Commentary by Perry Redd

I was set to give this speech before my fellow Washingtonians on the day of the 50th Anniversary commemorating the March on Washington. Disappointingly, I didn’t get to give it, but the words are still relevant and thus, I share with you:

Here we stand 50 years beyond one of America’s greatest turning points; there haven’t been many that can reach that pinnacle nor make that claim. Each of us may choose our own, but consensus is only reached on a few:

• The founding of the United States
• The War between the states
• Emancipation of the Enslaved Negro
• The Ending of Reconstruction
• Brown vs the Board of Education
• The March on Washington
• The Civil Rights Act of 1964
• The Voting Rights Act of 1965
• The Watts Uprising of 1966
• The Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
• The MOVE Bombing (1985)

These events changed the country forever, thus changing the world forever. In each of the events that I listed, the American Black man and woman were instrumental in forcing the hand of oppression to do what was uncomfortable. In the quest for righteous change, there shall always be resistance. Yes, there are many who will take the path of least resistance, and thus net a least result.

You are here today on this monumental day to net the greatest result: truth, justice and a new American Way. You see, the hands of magicians are at their swiftest work; the socio-political gains made during the 1960’s are being quickly being made to vanish before your eyes. A people who were once walking upright and forward, are now being forced to bend their backs and walk backward.

I am here today to admonish our path: we cannot walk backward through history.

We have come too far as a people—Black, white, Latino, Asian, Native peoples, indifferent—to allow the gains of heroes, sheroes, martyrs, political prisoners and patriots to be buried in the annuls of history. Our enemies have shovels in their hands, seeking to bury the work or your predecessors; the work of your prophets, the work of your mothers & fathers…the work of your kings and queens is under attack.

Political foes come in all forms; the friends in sheep’s clothing, the enemies in their own. Alike, they march us backward. The Voting Rights Act was just gutted, making it harder for poor people, the elderly and people of color to vote. Affirmative Active is being chipped away like Republicans at Obamacare on steroids. The Charter School movement is subverting the principles of equality that held the promise of Brown vs the Board. Racial Profiling is being defended by the very devils that evade the rule law. Early Education is under attack, Affordable Housing is under attack, and worker wages is are at a stalemate.

We must do as our forbears have done: put your head on a swivel and fight the enemy from all sides. The frontier now is set for Statehood…equality for all men & women. Constitutional equality…Lawyers all over America should be submitting the constitutional conflict of a federal district with American-born citizens denied the constitutional right to congressional representation and fair taxation; the right to self-governance and 14th Amendment protections. Statehood now…for nothing less will do.

Many of you may not reside within the boundaries of the District of Columbia, but have the American responsibility to stand up for, stand beside, stand behind your fellow Americans who are being treated as if they were plantation slaves. Second class citizenry is and should be wholly unacceptable to you. Band with us as “make them do it.”

Today is the day that Statehood for DC takes the center stage in the socio-political policy of the United States. We’re being treated as Israel treats the Palestinians. If you believe in truth, justice, pursuit of happiness, righteousness, peace, equality, then march forward into history with us as we demand statehood now…nothing less will do.

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