Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Day 84/365 March Madness

March 25, 1965.... Reverend Martin Luther King Jr leads 25,000 people in the famous "March on Montgomery" to draw attention to black voting rights (or the lack thereof) in the state of Alabama.



March 26, 1969....an anti-war group called Women Strike For Peace leads the largest anti-war demonstration (250,000 marchers) in Washington D.C. since Richard Nixon had assumed his office


Looking at these historic photos puts me in a nostalgic mood for times when there was always a demonstration to go to, or a worthy cause to support.

Things were more cut and dried then, you were either "for us or against us", the enemy was easily identified, and the heroes were apparent.

Either life is considerably more complicated 40-something years later, or the lines have blurred between right-and-wrong, worthy-and-pointless, as well as productive-versus-beating one's head against the wall.

I thought of this last weekend when I saw that Washington was the scene of the first anti-war demonstration since President Obama took office. While I was happy to see that people are still anti-war, I also wondered what the point was, since our current president has been trending towards winding up our overseas military committments.

Even more importantly, the demonstrators were allowed free range, instead of being confined to a large, fenced area as they have been the the last few previous years. Think constitutional rights, dissenting opinions and all that.

Which led me to wonder what would happen if people took to the streets as they did in previous years -but this time in support of a safe food supply, environmental protections, and a massive push towards alternative energy development.

Maybe the internet is the new "march in the streets" and blogging the new way to hoist a sign. Probably more efficient - no more 21-hour bus rides to D.C. or cops with tear gas - but not half as memorable, and not much to relate to the kids years later. No overwhelming sense of patriotic spirit from finding yourself one small cog in a like-minded crowd of a quarter million souls.

It's so much easier now. But it sometimes it seems little is accomplished. Maybe it is time to go back to the streets. There must be something snappy that rhymes with "AIG Bonuses" to fit on a sign.

Did you notice that top photo? The one of the 54 mile Civil Rights March from Selma to Montgomery? Yes, Martin Luther King, Jr is there.

So is Coretta Scott King, in heels.

Back when choices were so personal, you just had to hit the streets and be counted.



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