*Washington, DC – Black activists with the Project 21 leadership network are critical of President Barack Obama’s divisive and political comments made today as part of the 50th anniversary observance of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Approximately 50 years to the minute from when Dr. Martin Luther King began his “I Have a Dream” speech, President Obama stood in the same place as Dr. King to commemorate a solemn yet joyous anniversary. Yet the President seemed more interested in promoting his political agenda than celebrating progress earned through Dr. King’s inspiring speech and his legacy, Project 21 members say.
“In the span of five decades, our nation moved from institutional racism to electing a black man to the presidency. My children are taught at side-by-side with children of all colors and backgrounds, and my family enjoys boundless opportunities. In my mind, Dr. King’s Dream has been realized,” said Project 21 Co-Chairman Cherylyn Harley LeBon. “That’s why it is so difficult to understand why President Obama would choose to be so divisive on a day when we should all be celebrating. Why use this hallowed occasion to take pot shots at the Supreme Court for protecting our ballots, at laws that seek to protect us from crime and to support programs that break up families and encourage bad behavior? It’s not right.”
While Obama was not the only speaker, and not the only president, to use the event to push a political agenda, Project 21 members believe it would have been more appropriate for the sitting president to eschew partisanship for the momentous occasion.
“On the surface, President Obama gave homage to our founding documents and appeared to discourage those who seek excuses for their bad behavior. But this speech, peppered with Biblical references, seemed to use all of this as window dressing for his liberal agenda,” said Project 21′s Stacy Swimp. “He condemned segregated schools of the past and current substandard schools, but the contradiction is that he opposes school choice and promotes union supremacy. The same president who praised triumph over racial animosity contributed to it with his comments earlier this year on the George Zimmerman case.”
After appropriately discussing and honoring the spirit and plight of 1963 marchers, Obama veered into a discourse on the “second goal of the March” — what he called “our great unfinished business” of “material security.” In doing so, he played into the class warfare rhetoric common to his campaign speeches. Saying critics offer a “life of lower expectations,” those with “courage to change” — those who would follow his campaign — recognize a “right to health care,” have compassion for homosexuality and oppose those who erect “new barriers” to voting.
“What is astounding to me is the abundance of discouragement and condemnation Obama piled on for this historic and uplifting occasion,” added Project 21′s Lisa Fritsch. “As a whole, the event was full of woe to the people and grumbling about social and class …read more