Tuesday, August 25, 2015


For somebody, like me, who can't get to the theater every time a good movie comes out, Netflix is a wonderful thing. Last weekend I finally treated myself to Selma. The movie tells the story of Martin Luther King Jr.'s struggle to convince President Johnson to support the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Photo courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.

As the closing credits rolled, I said to myself, "White officials were brutal 50 years ago.  Golly gee whiz, we've come a long way."  It's the reaction the film is designed to elicit.  Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I doubted the accuracy of my reaction.

Well, today African Americans are free to vote in the south.
Yeah, except for the fact that in 2013 the Supreme Court effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by a 5-to-4 vote, freeing nine states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without advance federal approval.  Not long after the ruling was handed down, Texas reenacted their Jim Crow era voter I.D. law.  Other states quickly followed suit by passing restrictive voting laws of their own.

OK, but white police are no longer brutalizing African American citizens.
  • Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, was fatally shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. 
  • Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African American resident of Baltimore, Maryland, sustained fatal injuries from being shot multiple times by police officers.  
  • In McKinney, Texas, a police officer pulled his gun on several unarmed African American teens and wrestled a bikini-clad girl to the ground.
As much as I'd like to believe society has learned from our past mistakes, I'm not sure it's true.

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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