Who Owns 8/28?

"Whites don't own Abraham Lincoln and blacks don't own Martin Luther King," says Glenn Beck as he defends his right to rally and restore honor at the same place and on the same date as Martin Luther King's historic "I Have a Dream" speech. That Beck has to say this seems ridiculous in itself, for most of us know that Martin Luther King is an American legend, with cherished monuments and a nationally celebrated holiday honoring his birthday each year. But Beck has to say this because he is white. And sadly, he is addressing the same critics: certain black reverends who never miss an opportunity to exploit race and black history.

The Reverend Al Sharpton, the Reverend Walter Fauntroy, and the Reverend Timothy McDonald have been recently quoted in an uproar over Beck's 828 rally this weekend. They are suggesting that Beck is "hijacking" Dr. King's dream. Says Reverend McDonald, "To use this weekend when we remember that great march on Washington in 1963 as a pretense to give credence to their cause and their agenda is insulting. We were there." Had the hijacking of the dream been a sincere concern for the reverends, they would have had a standing reservation to obtain a permit in order to honor the legacy of Dr. King and the "I Have a Dream" speech that made history on August 28, 1963. But they did not.

Furthermore, Beck has been talking about 828 since the beginning of the year. Why are the reverends only now, the week of, coming out, arms blazing, over the rally when they have known for months that it was planned? The reverends are quite simply embarrassed, bitter, and angry that Glenn Beck is showing them as posers. The truth is, before Glenn Beck planned the rally and selected the date that coincidentally coincides with the date of the "I Have a Dream" speech, no one was even thinking about Martin Luther King on August 28. And certainly, many of us would be stuttering to come up with the year. Yet the reverends will tell you that they "were there." So were hundreds of thousands of others, of every race. But where are they now? And what exactly is the dream that they remember? And oh, how vastly different their dream seems for us today from the visionary and hopeful Dr. King's.

If we want to skip the nonsense and cut to the chase, it all boils down to this. The reverends had no plans on 828 of 2010 to honor the legacy of the "I Have a Dream" speech with a rally, a parade, or any such celebration of the sort, and now a white man is showing them up with a non-political rally honoring servicemen and paying tribute to Dr. King by talking of peace, love of country, and honor. Glenn Beck is doing what they did not have the foresight, the will, or the heart to do. They have not lived up to the dream, and these reverends have not forged ahead in victory and giving justice to the 828 date.

The reverends, having been there, should be standing with Glenn Beck, but they don't, and here is why: Their dreams differ greatly from those of Dr. Martin Luther King. They don't share his vision of peaceful solidarity, equality, and standing hand in hand in unity and love with brothers and sisters of every race. If the reverends shared those dreams, ironically, they would be overjoyed that Beck -- who is white -- is holding a non-political rally of honor on this date. Dr. King's niece, Dr. Alveda King, is standing with Glenn Beck, after all.  

So exactly is the dream of the reverends? Their dream is simply to keep fear flowing like a river in black communities. When one listens to them, it is difficult to believe they are remembering the same speech of Dr. King. Did they miss the part of the speech that asks that the black community not have a "distrust of all white people"? The only white people they seem to trust are the ones writing them a check from their latest shakedown. In Dr. King's speech, he lamented that "one hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination." Sadly, today, our communities are being crippled by the bitterness of these reverends. We are being segregated by their own selfish desires of power and control. We are being shackled by their anger and desire for vengeance over the past. They refuse to move forward in love and hope; instead, their muddled logic and twisted pride stifles us all like heavy sand. Today we are crippled by the weight of victimization bestowed up on us by these so-called reverends, who, instead of love, preach malcontent; who, instead of preaching peace, look and find contention and ill will in every act and deed of those who don't bow down to their authority; reverends who, instead of preaching honor, look for the quickest place to lay blame.

If these leaders really want to Honor Dr. King's dream and his legacy, then they will celebrate hand in hand with Glenn Beck and the thousands of Americans projected to turn out to restore honor. They will keep the dream alive by marching ahead and not turning back, as the "I Have a Dream" speech asks of us. This would be a great gift to our children. For our children to see that so many of those dreams have come true is the way towards honor and fulfillment of the whole dream.

For this one moment can these reverends put their bitterness and fear aside and have a moment of solidarity and celebration? Can they honor the victory without continually throwing the struggle in our faces? Can they take a break from race-baiting and divisive politics to enjoy a moment of reverence for the fallen soldier and be grateful for our many freedoms that just 47 years ago went unknown? Can they take the high road just this once and allow us to recognize just how far we have come without nitpicking us to think about how much farther we may have yet to go and who may hold us back? Let us have a moment as a nation to stand together and hear the ringing of freedom, honor, and courage. Let this moment be for Dr. King, our men and women in service, and for "all God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Lisa Fritsch is a writer and national television and radio commentator who has appeared regularly on Fox News Channel and radio programs all over the country. Follow her at www.lisafritsch.com.
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