We all know the story about how Bill Clinton had been so good for African-Americans that he was declared, by author Toni Morrison, to be ‘the first black president.’
Yesterday a friend and colleague at work gave me this video of Dick Gregory from the State of the Black Union, recently held in New Orleans by Tavis Smiley.
Mr. Gregory, whom I first heard about in 1965 as a freshman seminarian at Loyola University in Chicago, challenges this ‘black’ attribution in the video clip at YouTube: Dick Gregory
After you’ve watched it, ask one of your African-American friends if he or she has ever been pulled over by the police. It doesn’t matter whether this friend is your postal carrier, doctor, custodian, UPS driver, accountant… just ask him or her if they’ve ever been stopped.
After I’d seen and listened to Gregory’s words, I asked that question to my friend, whom I’ve known for almost 23 years. He is perhaps the most honest, loyal, giving, hard-working and selfless person with whom I’ve ever worked.
He looked at me, almost with tears in his eyes and said, "Three times." I asked what had happened. He added, "Even in my own home town."
This man isn’t capable of harming a flea, of even considering an action that would break the law. He doesn’t speed; he doesn’t drink; and he is so conscientious of the look of his neighborhood in which he lives that he mows the lawns of almost all of his neighbors.
And this father and devoted husband, the son of a sharecropper who has picked cotton from the age of eight; who told me the farmer got 90 percent of the earnings from the cotton and tobacco his entire family picked; this kind and generous gentleman told me of the terror he felt each of the three times he was stopped.
"Are they going to plant something in my car? What do they want? What will happen to me?" He told me that every time he drives home to North Carolina he has the same fear, every single mile of the drive.
Imagine living with that kind of fear. Not just in North Carolina, but where you live. Here in Northern Virginia. Back home in Springfield, Illinois. Or Boise.. St. Petersburg.. Scranton.. Grand Island.. Providence.. Birmingham.. Jenna.
Watch the YouTube video and realize the men and women in the audience are from all over these United States. And then think about Bill Clinton, who smugly said, after being asked about Barack Obama’s victory in South Carolina, "Well, Jesse Jackson won this state twice, and he ran a good campaign."
What was the purpose of that, Bill? To point out that someone else had won against the odds; or to let everyone know, and make everyone think and plant deep into their heads that Barack Obama is not the man running to be president who happens to be black.
No, Bill wanted to make sure we all, from that day on, saw Barack Obama as THE BLACK candidate for president. And I think he’s pretty well succeeded, don’t you?
Starting with that condescending talk of Barack Obama in South Carolina, the Clintons have done all they can to keep Barack in that box; to remind everyone who has prejudice in their hearts that he and Hillary are running against just another black man.
Just another black man who could be pulled over by the police, watched closely by the department store floorwalkers, whispered about as he or she walks into restaurants or enters the room.
Well, Bill… it isn’t going to work. The black community has officially taken your former ‘title’ away and now see you for who you are: just another cynical politician who will do anything, say anything… anything… just to win.
Because that’s all it’s about, isn’t it, Bill?
Think about this, Bill and Hillary: your time is over. The torch has been passed. And as Bill Richardson said, when he endorsed Senator Obama, "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and Barack Obama is a once-in-a-lifetime leader."
Throw at him what you will, but Barack Obama will be the president of these United States; the president who will make us proud again, the president who will lead us for the good of the country, not for the good of his polls.
You’re a disappointment, Bill Clinton. Barack Obama is a statesman, and nothing you can say or do will change him in the minds of the voters and in the expectations of those who have and will vote for him.
God bless him. God have mercy on you.