Thursday, March 5, 2015
Gil Caldwell on Selma this week, Equal Rights, Debt-forgiveness
Gil Caldwell, a fellow alum of the BU School of Theology with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote an open letter to 3 friends who gave the Lowell Lectures. His words cast further light on the gathering in honor of/hoping to extend Selma this week.
In June, 1964, Andy Goodman, my childhood friend, gave his life for the right to vote for everyone in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Selma, too, incarnates that struggle.
Recently, 5 bigots on the Supreme Court, in what Gil names a "living contradiction," stripped the Voting Rights Act of its enforcement provisions, leading to disenfranchisement of many blacks, chicanos, poor whites, students and the elderly in the "Republican" victory - with the lowest voter turnout in history - in 2014.
This turning back toward the Jim Crow South - listen to Michelle Alexander here and here - makes it likely, for instance, that the US will do nothing (except some Presidential actions) but further climate change until the next disaster. But the time, for humanity, on this planet is ticking...
The white folks who came to Selma, including Abraham Heschel and Jonathan Reeb, are heroes, too, as Ava Duvergner has underlined in her marvelous film "Selma," in the fight for what is decent. See my "Thoughts about the Greatness of Selma, truth, black and white unity, King and the clamor of racist patriarchs" here.
To all gathering in Selma, we owe our thanks and our affection.
My 3 friends gave the Lowell Lectures at my alma mater, BU School of Theology where Martin Luther King got his Ph.D. This is an 'Open Letter' to them. I am a great lover of Jazz with its creativity, improvisation and call and response. You reflected this 'Jazz Element' in the way your wrote your prelude, intervened within my article [on what Vincent Harding would say about Netanyahu's ghastly belligerence to Congress] and then in the way you wrote the conclusion. See here and also Tikkun here. I noticed and enjoyed the poem you shared. See here. How about your taking the following, doing what you did with my article and then posting it on your site?
There has been and will be much publicity re; the Selma gathering, President Obama, etc. I think we should add our 'voices' to the voices of those who are there.
I wish you would consider posting this on your site for the consumption of those who will be visiting or reading about the gathering in Selma. I think I have shared that I was in Selma 50 years ago, on the Tuesday following "Bloody Sunday" and then returned to make a presentation of monies raised in Boston to Harry Belafonte, who had invited a number of entertainers, at the Concert at the St. Jude Catholic Center where we stayed before marching into Montgomery.
I would like you to include your thoughts on what you hope this week's Selma event will mean. Your responses to excerpts of what I wrote, I believe, would be of interest to your readers.
Will you, yes or no? : )
"To: Dr. William B. McClain, Dr. Donald Messer, Dr. Pamela Lightsey/Lowell Lecturers, 3/3/15
From: Rev. Gil Caldwell
Congratulations on the success of your Lowell Lectures at Boston University School of Theology
as you discussed your visit to the Selma to Montgomery March when you, Bobby and Don, were students at the School. And you Pamela, as you spoke of your involvement in the struggles in Ferguson. The three of you and the Lowell Lecture have stimulated the following.
1. This week's Selma Memorial Event, hopefully, will spend most of its time, allowing the meaning of the Selma to Montgomery March address the present and the future. The "living contradiction" of the Supreme Court and the Congress, rescinding some aspects of the Voting Rights Act, an Act brought about by much blood, sweat, tears and deaths, should be a centerpiece of what happens in Selma this week. Remembering and reflecting on the first Selma, compels a re-dedication to confront the Selmas that are present in 2015. There is a symmetry between the police violence of "Bloody Sunday" 50 years ago, and the police violence directed at black men and boys today on the streets and in prisons, that must be admitted, acknowledged and confronted. The release of the Justice Department's critiques of policing in Ferguson, could not be more timely.[though the refusal to indict the officer who murdered Michael Brown reveals the shame, without a movement form below to push them, of our leading public figures, including Barack and Eric Holder. That a police officer can draw a gun on an unarmed young man and shoot him many times, killing him, and be "protected" by current "legal practice" - the cop who drew his gun on Taj Blow, a student on the Yale campus, is similarly and bizarrely "protected" - is a great scandal of modern America. If this is a free regime, what is a police state?]
2. Today's New York Times (3/4/2015) has this title; "Alabama Court Halts Licenses For Same-Sex Marriages" for its story about the 7 to 1 decision of the Alabama Supreme Court that halted the issuing of marriage licenses to same sex couples. This rejection of a federal Judge's decision cannot help but remind those who gather in Selma of the race-based state's rights decisions that made the Civil Rights Movement necessary, 50 years ago. [Indeed, as Phil Ochs once sang of Mississippi, "Alabama find another country to be part of..."] Regardless of faith-based resistance to same-sex marriage that some who gather in Selma may have, to ignore and not challenge this "in your face" flaunting of federal authority by Alabama re; same sex marriage, is to compromise the essence of the Civil Rights Movement. Martin Luther King said it best; "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
3. The "Selma Memorial Event" can undergird, what must become the major, Justice Struggle of the 21st Century; From Economic Inequality and Injustice to Economic Equality and Justice". Marcus Borg, the late Biblical/Theological Scholar has written an article that appears in the winter 2015 issue of Tikkun titled; "Embracing the Radical Economics of the Bible". Borgwrites; "Many believers are eager to use the Bible against same sex relationships.....but devote no energy to fighting for the implementation of (the Bible's) clear edicts on debt. We seldom hear voices....arguing against interests on loans or for periodic debt forgiveness and restoration of land to families who have lost their land." Borg offers these Biblical references for the above; Exodus 21:2, 22: 25, Deut. 23:9, Lev. 23 - 28.
History has validated the significance of the Selma to Montgomery March of 50 years ago. May Historians of the future, be able to write of how Selma 2015, transformed for the better, the nation and the world.
Gilbert H. Caldwell, a retired United Methodist Minister,
A Co-Partner in Truth in Progress and the film documentary;
"From Selma to Stonewall - Are We There Yet?"
Tikkun speaks rightly of a new global Marshall Plan to help the poor, envisions a society in which not American guns but American compassion acts in the world...See here and here.
Gil thus underlines a common theme of religious and spiritual folks against the self-destructive rapacity of the .0001%, er W., Jeb and Mitt, i.e. candidates of the Republican Party, er the Koch Brothers who have already raised the equivalent again of what the "Republicans" will spend in the next election, er Jamie Dimon, head of Chase and a bankroller of "Democrats," er...
Were a mere 4 of the military bases of the 1280 secretly ("bipartisanly") operated abroad of the US government closed and the money used instead for common good-sustaining purposes, all student debt, i.e., debt-slavery in the United States, could be eliminated (see Occupy Student Debt and Strike Debt)...
Were a few tomahawk missiles, let alone the Apache helicopters used by the Israeli government to menace Occupied Palestine - the secret of Netanyahu's imperial visit this week, Iran being used to deflect attention from the Occupier's murders in Gaza - to be used instead for common good-sustaining purposes, the health costs of many children and others not even covered by the now threatened Affordable Care Act, could be paid, i.e. universal health care, as if the United States were a decent country...
Sadly, that is a long way up from here.