9/07/2004

Today I was discussing with a Professor the psychic wages of constructing the civil rights movement as a spontaneous outpouring against injustice rather than the carefully planned series of organizers campaigns in was, in that the former makes it easier to abrogate one's responsibility to support the work of organizers for justice today. One of the most incredible of those organizers, then and now, is the Reverened James Lawson, who writes on Labor Day: Service sector work today is increasingly the province of a caste, of men and women deemed unworthy of basic human rights. It matters not how hard they work nor how valiantly they strive: they are condemned, as are their children and their children's children, to forever toil in the wilderness. The promise that defined life in America for so many generations and that gave this nation a true "middle class" does not extend to them: work hard, play by the rules, and you will get ahead. But Labor Day is not the time for lamentation over what was or even what is. Let us be inspired, instead, by those who have a vision of what can be and, moreover, are pursuing their vision with strategy and passion. Hotel workers are being arrested in the streets of Los Angeles. They are marching in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. and many other cities in North America. What do they want? You may not yet be aware of it, but a powerful idea has gripped the minds of tens of thousands of these "outcast" service workers, and it will not let them rest. They believe their labor should and can lead to a better life, and they intend to make that happen. After all, Jesus of Nazareth said, "The laborer deserves his wages." In the last century, the "outcast" workers in low-paid, dead end manufacturing jobs organized unions. They turned those jobs into the foundation of America's middle class. Today, hotel workers are organizing to redefine the nature of their jobs and open up their opportunities.

1 Comments:

Blogger Bruce Wilson said...

CNN is reporting that Parks was a "seamstress" ! )



But the mythologists have botched the Parks whitewashing.

I've rewritten the "Rosa Parks as accidental activist" myth here to illustrate - via satire - just how pernicious it really is.


"Accidental Activist Rosa Parks, 92, dies


Today marks the passage of iconic legend Rosa Parks, inadvertant hero of the Civil Rights struggle.

"I ain't no uppity black lady," Parks often quipped in public, "I's likes white folks, I do. Dey's alright by me. Dis here's a fine country we got here, and respect for private property rights is what's makes it dat way."

Rosa Parks grew up in a rough single room shack in the deep south, illiterate daughter of sharecroppers, and Parks' career as a pioneer in the Civil Rights movement came about by accident as she recounted to a CNN reporter last year:

"I's was goin' home on de bus, all tuckered out from 16 hours sewing dresses, and 'dis white man comes up to me whiles I was asleep on da bus seat, and I would'a given' up dat seat just fine, but instead of askin' nice that white man started kickin' me in the feet and cussin' and when I woke up I kinda jolted a little, and he thought I was kickin' back !

"Dat nice white man thought I was kickin' back ! Lordy ! Happens, I was just gettin' ready to give up my seat for dat nince white man, but he thought I kicked him back and started hollerin out loud to everybody on the bus "Lookee here ! She's not gonna give up her seat !"

"Thing is, I never said nothin' of the sort. Dat white man said it all and he was hollering so loud, over and over that I wan't gonna give up my seat, I didn't feel like I had any choice but to not give up my seat.

"Then, they threw me in jail and this nice preacher man - oh he was so handsome, he spoke so well, like an angel, that Martin Luther King fellow, he comes to my jail cell and tells me I have to stick up for da black folks.

"I told him, 'I don't want to. I'm just a feeble, weak woman what has bad teeth and can't read a lick. Plus, my mammy told me - Rosa, nail sticks out gets whacked down - an' so I don' want to get whacked down. I ain't no hero.'

"But dat Martin, he was a smart man and he just ignored me and said - 'Rosa, shut up. I'm going to make you a hero' - and the rest's just history."


Mrs. Parks is survived by a large number off politically passive, patriotic Americans who are grateful to live in the United States - in part for for it's exemplary civil rights laws that ensued following the Civil Rights struggle that arose from Parks' accidental leadership.

Three days before her death, Rosa Parks told a reporter for the Des Moines Register Gazette, "I cried all da day long when they killed dat Martin Luther, but dat Malcom X fellow, he got what's he deserved. See, anythin' good happens to da black folks happens by accident, 'cept of course it's not accident at all, it's God's will. People don't get nothin' by tryin'. I got all I got in life by da grace of God, not by readin' or book learnin' or political activizin' no sirree. God just took me and made me what I was, and I din't have no choice. No sirree. It was all da grace 'O God, lord be praised."

I rest my case.

10/25/2005 09:41:00 AM  

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