Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Content of His Character

The deal I struck with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., over 40 years ago was to judge people by the content of their character. I never actually met Martin Luther King, Jr. I struck the deal, anyway. Such was the rightness of his vision. Even before the “I Have A Dream” speech, I did have the memorable pleasure of attending a lunch one day at the Butler Street YMCA in Atlanta and was seated next to Martin Luther King, Sr., and I can assure you Daddy King had an abundance of content in his character. For decades, he was the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church on Auburn Ave.

Clinton, the one who already has been President of the United States, spoke this week at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday. I found out by getting caught in a Secret Service size traffic jam, notable even for Atlanta, as I tried to cross Peachtree Street downtown. I was on my way back from picking up my yard sign at Obama for President Georgia campaign headquarters, 370 Northside Dr., SW, a block north of the Georgia World Congress Center. I also got a bumper sticker and two campaign buttons.

Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois had spoken at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church on Sunday and issued a call for unity: “We are told that those who differ from us on a few things are different from us on all things; that our problems are the fault of those who don't think like us or look like us or come from where we do. The welfare queen is taking our tax money. The immigrant is taking our jobs. The believer condemns the non-believer as immoral, and the non-believer chides the believer as intolerant. And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.”

“And that is what is at stake in the great political debate we are having today. The changes that are needed are not just a matter of tinkering at the edges… We will have to fight to fix our schools, but we will also have to challenge ourselves to be better parents. We will have to confront the biases in our criminal justice system, but we will also have to acknowledge the deep-seated violence that still resides in our own communities and marshal the will to break its grip. That is how Dr. King led this country through the wilderness. He did it with words -- words that he spoke not just to the children of slaves, but the children of slave owners. Words that inspired not just black but also white; not just the Christian but the Jew; not just the Southerner but also the Northerner. “

THE ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION has endorsed Sen. Obama in the Georgia Presidential Primary Feb. 5, Super Tuesday: “At times of crisis, this country has always been blessed with strong, even visionary, leadership. But that has not been true for the last seven years. To the contrary, on almost every front we are suffering the consequences of slapdash, divisive leadership. Obama, on the other hand, has demonstrated an appeal across many of the lines that have divided America. That is a critically important attribute, because the scale of changes that must be made to correct America's course cannot be accomplished with majorities of 50 percent plus one. Different moments in history require different types of leaders, and part of the art of picking a president is matching the person to the challenge and to the time. So while both Clinton and Obama would make very good presidents, Obama is the person; this is his time.”

And here’s my two-cents worth: for most of my life the President of the United States has been from what Tom Brokaw called “The Greatest Generation.” The last two have been from my generation, which some might want to call the “not-so-great generation.” Frankly, I think the torch should be passed to the next generation. Also, for many years I have believed there are things about my country that are broken and can only be fixed, wounds that can only be healed by the first African-American to be elected President.

Copyright 2008 by William C. Cotter


sunny said...

I'm scared to believe. I keep thinking of Hillary's saying, "You campaign in poetry, but you govern in prose". A close friend (my demographic), very active in Democratic politics on Long Island, has just switched to Obama. She cites the same reasons as you do (although not as poetically!).

Paw Paw Bill said...

Thank you for your thoughts. I suspect there are others that feel the same way. We can only do what our minds and hearts tell us and hope for the best. Thanks again for your loyal readership.

Annette said...

I believe Obama's record and achievements in life show that he is entirely capable of prose. Was Hillary governing in prose when she attempted to get a healthcare bill enacted and was so into doing it her way with no help and butting heads with everyone, that the net result was she set heathcare back 15 years? Hillary is very bright and is certainly in command of the issues. She just doesn't play well with others. She believes in her inner light and intelligence...she just doesn't believe in mine. I think her attempts to govern will alienate constituents she will need...on all issues. And hubby Bill's hyper, over-the-top rantings only remind one of "I never had sex with that woman" protestations. If he has this much to do with her campaign now, how much would he have to do with her presidency? Obama is smart, has a philosophy I agree with and can inspire and work with others. What an opportunity!

GBK Gwyneth said...

Your beautiful post has made me reconsider. I will be doing a lot of reading this weekend, trying to be as informed as I can be. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I see there's a new bumper sticker on your car :)

EHT said...

I do like his speaking style, but normally I vote the other way much to the chagrin of my daddy who is one of those Roosevelt Democrats Georgia is so famous for. That being said I've voted the other way many times depending on the person running and the issues.

I'm still waitin' and watchin' before I make up my mind, but I do know I won't cross over to vote for the Clinton who hasn't been president.

Heidi said...

Obama seems to be capable of inspiring great excitement and optimism in many many progressive and intelligent people--this quality alone is terrifically rare, and is worth a very great deal...while I have not yet seen either Obama or Hillary interact in ways that TOTALLY won me over to either side (I find both strangely mechanical--but maybe that's just me, or the extent to which I basically have no faith in anyone's public performances, any longer; i still feel, somehow, like i am watching just another version of American Idol ? ) I am all for having someone in office who may actually be able to heal/diffuse/neutralize some of the wounds of Racism in this country--so if an Obama election could mean that, it could heal one of the primary rifts in the psyche of this country. Which again would be worth more than it's weight in gold (as opposed to BLING). And if anyone, of any color, can be persuaded into caring about content, over constructed-image, ever AGAIN, it would also be a brilliant thing for the country indeed. So I'm all for hope, and if Obama can give the people more hope, that is a very positive quality--I haven't caught a fever yet for ANY of them, but I would take any of them, on any day, any time over any of the scary horrors of pretend socially-conservative republican morans, and all their pretend muscular moralizing, and over-inflated obfuscatory blustering, any day, any time, any WHERES, as either Obama, Hillary, or Mister John Edwards could defeat them all morally or intellectually any day with just the tiniest part of their weakest pinky.

Paw Paw Bill said...

What a lively debate! I could not be happier. My wife and I spent the morning down at Obama Georgia campaign headquarters. She made phone calls to voters. Her deaf husband entered data in the computer about phone calls to voters. Elections turn on people who can be persuaded. My sister-in-law has come around. A friend here, a neighbor there. Conservative Republican Bill Bennett cannot contain his excitement on CNN when he talks about Obama. Roosevelt Democrats. Reagan Democrats. Obama Democrats. Obama Independents. Obama Republicans.

jackie said...

I wish I could be a true believer and really believe that any of our current candidates had any viable solutions to anything. I heard a bit of the republican debate and the two leads were arguing about whether or not Romney had actually set a date for withdrawl. Paul said that the argument was silly. What we should be talking about is how we feel about preemptive strikes. Exactly. I have been listening to a feature of the Leherer report called The Big Picture. A group of about six people from one state (they did different states and different topics) sit around and talk about an issue. None of the people on the panels seem to believe that politicians had any solutions either. They also realized that any solution to any problem is a trade off. These were ordinary citizens but wise.


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