Beck and Sharpton’s Dueling Rallies Highlight King’s Unfulfilled Dream

I Have a Dream MLK
I Have a Dream MLK

And back in the land of real change and hope, Al Sharpton is rallying today to honor King’s memory on the 47th anniversary of his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The theme of today’s march is to “Reclaim the Dream”. While speaking at the rally, Sharpton made no mention of the Beck rally that had secured a permit to the location of the historic Martin Luther King speech we are celebrating today. Sharpton and the civil rights movement supporters and progressives had speakers until 1PM and then began their march, hoping to reduce the opportunities for conflict with the Beck people lingering at the Lincoln memorial.

Sharpton and the speakers focused on how much we still need to do in order to achieve equality.

In a recent interview Sharpton called out Beck for trying to reverse the work of Martin Luther King, “”Glenn Beck is trying to reverse what King did and there are those of us who are not going to allow that to happen. They’re saying, ‘we’re talking about the honor of America,’ they’re saying ‘we’re talking about restoring dignity.’ There is nothing more dignified than our country coming together and making sure that everyone has equal opportunity. That’s not communism, that’s really what this country is supposed to stand for and what Dr King gave his life for.”

Krissah Thompson of The Washington Post reports that not everyone was as restrained as Sharpton regarding the Beck rally:

“”Shame on them. We still have a dream. We are here to let those folks on the Mall know that they don’t represent the dream,” said Jaime Contreras, president of SEIU-32BJ. “They sure as hell don’t represent me. They represent hate-mongering and angry white people. The happy white people are here today. We will not let them stand in the way of the change we voted for!””

As they prepared to march, Sharpton urged everyone, “Let the line stretch. They already going to say there were only 2,000 or 3,0000 of you here. If people start heckling smile at them. This ain’t about you, it’s about Dr. King.”

You know, only the privileged can afford to mar their message with anger, justified or not. Those who are still not equal, those who could easily be stereotyped can not afford to be off message.

It doesn’t take courage to join a lot of white people and rally around the notion of taking your country back. After all, you’ve always had it. It feels like a right and an entitlement. What does take courage is to stand up against the prevailing notions and stereotypes. It takes courage to restrain yourself from responding to hate. It takes courage to stand up for your beliefs, when they engender such hate and when the source of that hate has long, historical ties to actual physical harm and even death.

It’s clear after watching the Beck rally that it most certainly was about race. His message was to “Restore America”, a message he delivered to a predominantly white crowd on the very location and anniversary of MLK’s historic speech. Restore America? To what?

The Washington Post reports: “Tehuti Imhotep came from Baltimore with posters depicting black history from the middle passage through King’s 1968 march in support of trash haulers in Memphis. Imhotep shouted at passersby: “This is our real history. [Beck’s] trying to redefine the civil rights movement,” he said. “How insensitive! King was about bringing people together. This man Beck is pulling people apart.””

And it’s this truth that haunts me. It’s why I shudder when progressives relentlessly criticize our President. Like the heavy air before a bad storm, I sense the impending build up of the Right’s efforts to destroy our President. A man who represents hope and the best we can be. No, he’s not perfect. But then, I never expected him to be perfect. I guess I am happy to have a decent man who is pretty honest with us and who stands for uniting us and using diplomacy before force. I guess I’m happy to have a man who cares about civil rights of all people, even though we are far from achieving them.

And watching the stark contrasts between these two rallies, one where the leaders make no mention of the hate but focus on the change still needed and another where they took obvious pot shots at the change they don’t like in our country, I’m deeply saddened. In fact, I’m grieving.

But I won’t give into this momentary despair. I know others fought much harder battles. I believe in the ultimate power of good. I believe in the aspirational progressive ideals of the Left. And in the end, I know Liberals will find a way past their grievances, once they see exactly what’s at stake here. I know they’ll find a way to hold the President accountable while still supporting him. We still have a lot to do. And it’s this fact that needs to come home for the Left. We can only accomplish this together.

If I have a dream, it’s that we will find a way to unify behind our President and make felt the awesome presence of our desire for justice. We’ll hold Obama accountable as we embrace him and protect him from the slings and arrows of hate.

Yes, we can.

If you’re ready to read more from the unbossed and unbought Politicus team, sign up for our newsletter here!

18 Replies to “Beck and Sharpton’s Dueling Rallies Highlight King’s Unfulfilled Dream”

  1. Beautiful! Wonderfully written, Sarah!

    Interesting. I look at the last few days, and I see Keith Olbermann donating money and calling on his viewers to donate to the National Association of Free Clinics, to help those who need medical care…. and then I see millionaire Glenn Beck, standing in front of a huge crowd of people, asking them for money while saying in essence that the poor in this country should be grateful for what they have. The “Have” asking the “Have-Nots” to donate to this rich man’s rally, and to quit complaining about being poor.

    Beck is the polar opposite of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

  2. Thanks, Leesa. This one means a lot to me. I was finally able to articulate exactly what I wish the Left could see and how we can accomplish the goal of accountability while also recognizing the very different challenges Obama faces. We need to unite behind him if we want to see positive change for civil rights.

    Your post on the racial bias of the left and right inspired me to crystallize my thoughts. I feel the same sense of impending danger I felt before Bush invaded Iraq.

  3. King was about uniting people of all races, and he was correct in saying that we can unite as a country or be divided and perish as fools. Unfortunately, Beck and Palin along with their minions tragically fail to realize that being pro-black is not about being anti-white. That’s why they keep trying to discredit this president by perpetuating the phony meme that a black president would benefit blacks at the expense of whites. Just the same, it’s extremely heartening and encouraging to read comments on this forum and other and realize that most people don’t buy what Palin and Beck are selling.

  4. Another great one, Sarah. That’s a double-barreled shot-gun blast, to borrow some second amendment language (want to help the conservative readers feel at home here).
    And all flippancy aside, I found your language very moving. So thank you for speaking out so eloquently.

  5. Thanks Sarah Jones, you express exactly what I and thousands would like to say…
    and “Yes we can”!
    Someone commented on PG a series of statements from Hiltler that sounded just like the Beck/Palin #Whitestock!
    As President Obama said the other day…” you put you car in D to go forward….R to…well you know…” We must not let them drag us backwards!

  6. I can’t say anything better or more eloquent than those who have already commented. I add my voice to theirs and say Here – Here!

  7. You are quickly becoming one of my favorie writers. Thank you for your dead on assessment of what is happening today.

  8. Hey, did anyone know that Dr. King’s niece was a speaker at the Glenn Beck rally? I wonder why she spoke for Beck’s rally instead of Sharpton’s, since Beck is supposed to be the one stealing King’s dream and Sharpton is supposed to be the one who’s living up to it.

  9. His neice is anti choice that’s why. Mlk would roll over in his grave if he knew. Sharpton isn’t always on point but today he did himself proud.

  10. Today was the biggest farce in modern history. First for his book, then the military, then restoring America. He couldn’t make his mind up and adlibed the entire premise.

    This BS he spouts about how he gets Ideas is pure fantasy. He is setting himself up as something that he could never aspire to.

    I could only guess he was trying to take gods place as a preacher. His voice overs had to creep out the tea party who were waiting for a total slam Obama day. I know they creeped me out. Where did that kind of thing become necessary? Did he just do a sermon on the mount under Lincolns Knees? Did he appoint himself pope?

    If you have ever read the good Dr Kings speech, and i downloaded it today before being drug off for shopping, you would know that no white man should ever do what he did. It was nothing short of laughing at blacks. JMO

  11. Thank you, Sarah, for so eloquently putting into words what was so troubling to many of us. I think we all need to prop each other up and remind each other how important our goal is. President Obama never said he would do it alone. He made that real clear. People like Beck, Palin and their sheeple want to be told. We, on the other hand, know the task. Men like King inspired us with his dream. We can do it. Yes WE can.

  12. I can verify that she does in fact, blush. She was not lying. She is a very humble and modest person, which is amazing given how gifted she is.

  13. Sarah, this may have been your most heart felt post to date. I have been so disheartened in these last months. I so agree with you on all of this. I have felt the haunting. I pray for the President. He is attacked from all fronts. You are so right. You would think Americans would rather have a decent, thoughtful man who only wishes the good for this nation. He did not profess to do it alone nor did I expect him to. But I did expect that he would get the support needed to fight for this country. I honor and respect President Obama and I pray that America will rise up in his defense and offense and discontinue the attacks to destroy a good man and a leader who wants the ideals and progress of this country to be fair, just and honest. Thank you for this post because it inspires hope and reminds us of the disastrous alternative.

  14. My understanding is this niece is estranged from her family and does not represent the Martin Luther King JR foundation. She is very religious, and seems to follow that line of Becks message.

    It also seems like there were as many people of color on the stage as the rest of the crowd.

  15. Steve,

    I’m sorry, but you must be on crack honey. There were almost ZERO people of any color other than white in the audience. I watched the entire thing from beginning to end live.

    I saw security detail who was black, I saw a blogger who was black, I saw one black man who appeared to be attending in the audience. That does not make “many” people of color. The rest were ON THE STAGE in what can only be described as an obvious attempt at taking cover and an insult so absurd I am not even going to grace it with umbrage.

    It also came to my attention that the CPAN feed and the promoters FB feed were not the same. Apparently, in a transparent move to distance himself from racism, the promoter feed focused on anyone of color they could find.

    CSPAN, on the other hand, is non-partisan and does not have an agenda. I think I’ll go with reality on this one, thanks anyway.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.