Tonawanda News

Columns

August 25, 2013

DUVALL: Obama's speech a yawner from media

Tonawanda News — A handful of thoughts on what was a newsie week in Western New York:

Anyone who thought just because we elected our first black president America’s race problem would be solved can find ample proof they’re wrong in the news just about everyday.

The Supreme Court is rolling back the Voting Rights Act and Republican lawmakers at the state and local level are wasting no time instituting what dissenting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called “second generation” racial roadblocks such as voter ID requirements and gerrymandered districts reducing minority input at all levels of government.

It’s apparently OK to pick a fight with an unarmed black kid in the South, then when you start losing the fight, shoot him to death.

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s historic March on Washington, which culminated in his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.

I’ve watched the speech probably dozens of times and studied it in college. It still casts a spell over me every time it plays.

(Fun fact: The actual “I Have a Dream” riff wasn’t in King’s prepared text. His prepared portion of the speech comes at the beginning of his remarks and is rather dull. The closing stanza that returns to the “I have a dream ...” line was an extemporaneous add-on, elements of which King drew on from speeches he’d given before. A great orator knows when he’s losing the audience and adjusts. That one of the greatest speechs in American history was largely impromptu only further adds to King’s aura.) 

I was heartened to see King’s legacy recalled as it should be — one of inspired action. That organizers expanded King’s civil rights legacy to include the poor, gays, Latinos, women and other portions of society not fully recognized was both smart and necessary.

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