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Concert at the White House

By       Message Sally McMillan     Permalink
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The White House celebrated Black History Month with a concert on February 11. In the lovely setting of the East Room it honored the civil rights movement with the help of some of the movement's best entertainers like Morgan Freeman, Bob Dylan, Yolanda Adams, Natalie Cole, Smokey Robinson, Joan Baez and others who over the years have put themselves on the line for the cause of justice and freedom.. The audience duly clapped, sang along, and enjoyed the evening.

Yet, looking around the room during the quick glances afforded by the camera, one wonders whether the persons sitting there, with some exceptions, were the ones on the street supporting the movement during the difficult days of the 60's, or for the younger members of the audience whether they have ever been part of more recent movements for the advancement of justice and peace and democracy. We were told that the audience included members of the president's cabinet and members of Congress, among others. Joe Biden and Senator Leahy were visible, enjoying the performance with others of the Washington elite.

It would be nasty to imply that these fine people should be denied an elegant night out at the White House for a special celebration of our democracy's achievements. Still, there's a lingering feeling that those who worked so hard to accomplish the goal of equality for all our citizens are the more appropriate ones to be here for this celebration. Those are the heroes who fought the struggle for civil rights, and are still fighting it.. One can't help but ask whether some of those in this audience were among those who blocked any change in the status quo or were at least indifferent to it.

Which brings us to today's movements: the movement for universal health coverage, for a living wage, for an end to nuclear weapons, for renewable energy, for world peace, for democracy itself which is threatened by corporate power and the corruption of money. These struggles are going on and the people waging them are being brushed aside and disparaged and arrested. It is these people who will move this country forward, and when they finally succeed, they will not be invited to the White House to celebrate. It will be the same sort of crowd that sat there Thursday night as if they were participants in the progress that they hadn't the courage to fight for. This is the way of power, the way of Washington. It would be interesting to see the guest list.


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Sally McMillan is a mother, a grandmother, an activist and a writer. She's from Philadelphia, Iowa, and now Albuquerque. She has four children and 12 grandchildren.

She is a graduate of Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia PA (more...)

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