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Artur Davis Has Got Some Nerve

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Message Tolu Olorunda

It is rare for a right-wing, corporate, Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) operative to step up and challenge a respected theologian in the African-American religious tradition. However, Artur Davis, the Alabama Congressman just achieved that, last week. Davis, who is known for his hawkish rhetoric—as one in the lineage of Harold Ford Jr.—and conservative principles, is apparently, displeased with the organizers of the annual Selma “Bloody Sunday” commemoration. His discontentment seems to lie in the organizers’ decision to invite Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. to the memorial. Davis could not contain himself in calling Rev. Jeremiah Wright (whose record on civil and human rights is an anomaly in this age of prosperity gospel) a detractor to the gains made by the Obama campaign’s reconciliatory message during the ’08 Presidential Race—which he, ironically enough, learned from sitting in Rev. Wright’s pews for 20 years.

In a letter to the Selma organizers, Davis claims to be “offended by the vehemence of Wright’s commentaries on race in America.” He proceeds to explain that it would be a “sad irony” to “extend a prominent role in that event to the figure whose rhetoric and histrionics at one point imperiled our new President’s campaign.” It is still unclear why Artur Davis, one whose political pursuits are diametrically opposed to the interests of the Black Community, and whose corporate ties run afoul the legacies of ‘60s-produced freedom fighters—a la Dr. King, Shirley Chisholm, A. Philip Randolph, Fannie Lou Hamer, Malcolm X, and Dorothy Scott—chose to abruptly, and publicly, take shots at a man with an impeccable history of fighting on behalf of the less-fortunate and oppressed—though his rumored attempts at the Governorship of Alabama might provide the missing piece of the puzzle.

Davis’ gripe with the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute is an oxymoron, in and of itself. Artur Davis, who has consistently earned an F-grade from the CBC monitor—the unofficial watchdogs of the Congressional Black Caucus—is in no way a voice of advocacy on behalf of Black folks.

For the record, Davis rose to prominence in 2002, after garnering victory in a Congressional run-off against former-Rep. Earl F. Hilliard. A 10-year veteran at the time, Hilliard, much beloved by his constituency, was grossly outspent by Rep. Davis in the infamous race. Davis was backed by AIPAC, and other corporate-lobby enterprises. Davis also benefited from the heavy gentrification process which had begun in the district, and uprooted/displaced most of the Black residents. Before the campaign would be over, however, Hilliard would remind his constituency that Davis, as a federal prosecutor, had been anything but beneficial to the Black Community. “The only thing he’s done for black people is put them in jail,” Hilliard said at the time. As the political twin of Barack Obama, he would also face questions, from Earl Hilliard, as to whether he was “black enough,” to represent the overwhelmingly Black district—a chord which resonated, quite interestingly, with the people of Alabama’s 7th Congressional District. Davis, running as a staunch proponent of the Iraq War, and an advocate for charter schools and alternative educational models—in short, initiatives that disenfranchise large swaths of the Black Community—would etch out a narrow victory. Ever since, as a leader in the DLC—the blue-dog, corporate-controlled, right-wing-focused wing of the Democratic Party—he has voted, consistently, against the will and welfare of Black folks.

Artur Davis is also a card-carrying member of the new-Black political consensus—the ones with no interests in keeping alive the legacy of the past, or engaged in “backward-looking” rhetoric. A few of them include Barack Obama, Cory Booker, Artur Davis, Deval Patrick, former-Rep. Harold Ford Jr., and Gov. David Paterson. This is why it remains appalling that Rep. Davis would dare step to a man like Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and question his civil-rights credibility. For Davis to think he has the political capital to impinge upon Rev. Wright’s schedule is a comic-routine, to begin with. What is most offensive, though, is that the new assembly of Black leaders—or leading Blacks—have drunk the poison offered to them by those who seek to wipe out the ugly history of oppression against African people across the globe. Intoxicated with the chemicals of self-obsession, they assume to be the new voices of Black-centered articulation. If Black folks, and people conscience of all stripes, don’t impede this plan, and restore the megaphone of justice back to safe hands, it wouldn’t take long before words such as “post racial,” “color-blind,” and “race-transcending” become a part of the lexicon of everyday speech. For many, that reality is already upon us.

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Tolu Olorunda is a Columnist for BlackCommentator.com
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