“Free speech is an inalienable right to avoid prosecution for your views, not persecution because of them”. The Mo’ Kelly Report
A few months back, Mo’ Kelly wrote an exceptional blog about Rev. Jeremiah Wright (http://mokellyreport.blogspot.com/2008/04/mokelly-report-fully-supports-jeremiah.html). I hope he wins the Pulitzer Prize of bloggery (or whatever it’s called) for it. But in reading his defense of Rev. Wright, it brought back to mind his own quote from a different blog, which I quoted above. Everyone is accountable for what they say, not only when they said it, but when others hear it. Of course, no one should be held hostage at age 55 for something they said at 25. But you are still accountable for the good or damage that is done. That is why people go back and thank or curse teachers for things they said years ago.
I am a fan of Barack Obama for a lot of reasons. Being just over six months apart in age, and knowing his story as I do, our milestones toward getting where we are mentally are very similar, even if our paths toward getting here are totally different. Born at the middle of the Civil rights movement, we watched Watts burn by Molotov Cocktail, and Viet-Nam burn by napalm, as children. We listened to former Black Panthers on the Speaker’s Circuit, while in college. We ignored corporate America to work for the uplifting of the people as a first (and second, and third) job. We’ve gone into middle age with one foot in the past and one in the future, holding onto the Black culture we represent with one hand, and the mainstream culture that we hope to influence with the other hand, while keeping our minds on Jesus so we don’t lose this psychological game of twister. Yeah, Obama is my brother.
Just like my brother Obama, I’m also a student of history. I love, admire, and respect those who came before me, and the work and sacrifice on their part that allowed me to be where I am, and who I am. I have a special appreciation for those who know when to pass the torch. I love the scene in The Rundown, when Arnold Schwarzenegger walked by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the beginning of the movie and said, “Have fun”. He openly passed the torch. The Apostle Paul spoke about running his race, and finishing his mission. He knew he had blazed a trail, and that people had trained for such a time to build on his work, and was at peace with that it was that time. Aside from what he represents to everyone else, sisters/brothers who have struggled to build us up to where we are now need to understand that this is Obama’s time.
I was watching the movie, Get on the Bus, last week, and it was the perfect metaphor for this time. There was a passing of a torch, in the form of an African drum, from the oldest brother, to the second youngest brother on the bus. Why the second youngest? Because he was the one that had shown the most interest in carrying on the legacy! There are brothers now that were driving the bus before Obama even knew where the bus stop was. Jesse Jackson, Maxine Watters, Charles Rangel, even Jeremiah Wright, drove the bus that was built from Crispus Attucks and Phylis Wheatley, through Shirley Chisolm, MLK, and Malcolm X. But now it’s time for those folks to get on the bus, take a seat, and see where Obama is going to take them. No one knows exactly where this ride will go, but no one knew when the last wave of drivers took over either.
Anyone who has ever ridden on a bus knows that backseat driving is not accepted. That is why, for the most part, folks have kept their mouths closed. Recent remarks, like Jesse Jackson’s, and previous remarks by Jeremiah Wright, are just unacceptable at this time. I’m not talking about Wright’s sermon; that was in the past, and regardless, he should say whatever he feels God leads him to say in the pulpit since he is directly accountable to God. But his post-media-hype road show was uncalled for, and unproductive. Obama has other things to do with his time than having to make statements distancing himself, or accepting apologies, from folks whom he has admired and aspired to be like. Even his contemporaries like Tavis Smiley, and me, need to recognize that he can take us someplace that no one else can right now. We may not like his driving style, but without him, the bus keeps running it’s same old route. As I find every time I leave a job, and as Tavis is learning from the applicants to his spot on the Tom Joyner show, there is always another talented sister/brother waiting to do what’s already been done. We can ride shotgun on the bus, but there can only be one driver.
Jessie Jackson, Jr. gets it. Any problems he has with Obama will be voiced after he finishes working to get his brother elected, and he will ride shotgun to protect him until then. Junior knows that, whether Obama wins or loses, it will make things easier in the future for brothers like him and Harold Ford. Like other’s times have past, they know their time has not come yet. Until it does, they need to do like the bus driver told them back in grade school: stay in your seat and keep your mouth shut, because any negative thing you say about the driver might get you suspended from school, or whupped by your parents. It’s the same now. Our leaders who are not currently running for president need to watch what they say about the man who is, because they will be held accountable… and it may get them a whuppin’. Another way to think of it is, by choosing not to get on the bus, you may be choosing to get thrown under it. Those folks are still viable, honorable leaders, and have earned their right to, and made their mark by, speaking their piece. But weakness being the absence of power, and meekness being the control of power, can they allow us to inherit the earth by showing they are strong enough to be meek. Can they just sit back and enjoy the ride?