From a Mother Jones Daily newsletter by Ben Dreyfuss:
June 11, 2020
Fifty-seven years ago today, noted segregationist George Wallace — then of Alabama, now of Hell—infamously stood in the schoolhouse door in an attempt to block two Black students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from attending the University of Alabama. In response, President John F. Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard, which ordered Wallace to step aside.
Later that night, Kennedy addressed the nation.
“One hundred years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves,” the president said, adding:
Yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free. They are not yet freed from the bonds of injustice. They are not yet freed from social and economic oppression. And this Nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free…
Now the time has come for this Nation to fulfill its promise. The events in Birmingham and elsewhere have so increased the cries for equality that no city or State or legislative body can prudently choose to ignore them.
The fires of frustration and discord are burning in every city, North and South, where legal remedies are not at hand. Redress is sought in the streets, in demonstrations, parades, and protests which create tensions and threaten violence and threaten lives.
We face, therefore, a moral crisis as a country and as a people. It cannot be met by repressive police action. It cannot be left to increased demonstrations in the streets. It cannot be quieted by token moves or talk. It is time to act in the Congress, in your State and local legislative body and, above all, in all of our daily lives.
It is not enough to pin the blame on others, to say this is a problem of one section of the country or another, or deplore the fact that we face. A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation, is to make that revolution, that change, peaceful and constructive for all.
Those who do nothing are inviting shame as well as violence.
Those who act boldly are recognizing right as well as reality.
Donald Trump, a modern-day Wallace, is planning to hold a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 19. Both the location and date have significance. Tulsa is the site of an infamous massacre in 1921, when white marauders murdered hundreds of Black residents. June 19 is Juneteenth, the day commemorating when enslaved Americans, in Texas, first learned of the emancipation proclamation.
What will the increasingly unpopular Trump say in his speech? Well, if his current mindset is a predictor, nothing good. Words that come out of a president’s mouth have historically had a talent for meeting action, for good or ill.
After Kennedy’s Oval Office address, he proposed what would become the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. Trump, whose chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff apologized for participating in the president’s tear-gas photo, seems more likely to prove the ill part.
Have a nice evening,