Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Power never concedes anything without a demand
"Hope" Has Been a Bust, It's Time for Hope 2.0
January 18, 2010
On the eve of the first anniversary of President Obama's inauguration, it's become painfully obvious that elected officials are not going to save us. The 2008 election was all about "Hope." But Hope is simply not cutting it.
What we need is Hope 2.0: the realization that our system is too broken to be fixed by politicians, however well intentioned -- that change is going to have to come from outside Washington.
This realization is especially resonant as we celebrate Dr. King, whose life and work demonstrate the vital importance of social movements in bringing about change. Indeed, King showed that no real change can be accomplished without a movement demanding it.
As Frederick Douglass put it: "Power never concedes anything without a demand; it never has and it never will."
The perfect example of this came in March 1965. In an effort to push for voting rights legislation, King met with President Lyndon Johnson. But LBJ was convinced that the votes needed for passage weren't there. King left the meeting certain that the votes would never be found in Washington until he turned up the heat in the rest of the country. And that's what he set out to do: produce the votes in Washington by getting the people to demand it. Two days later, the "Bloody Sunday" confrontation in Selma -- in which marchers were met with tear gas and truncheons -- captured the conscience of the nation. And five months later, on August 6th, LBJ signed the National Voting Rights Act into law, with King and Rosa Parks by his side...