Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'll be taking an 'unpaid leave of absence' from my job at the Global Network from December 15-March 15, 2020 in order to help my friend Lisa Savage on her campaign for the US Senate in Maine. She's running as a Maine Green Independent Party member and needs to gather 2,000 petition signatures of registered Greens during that period. I'll be back to GN after March 15.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

ON THE CAPE

MB and I are on Cape Cod in Massachusetts for a few days. Her brother has a condo here on the bay and gave us the key to the place. We both need a rest after months of a feverish pace. On Tuesday we will head to North Andover (north of Boston) where I will speak at a supper program for the walkers who I have just left.

The sun is shining here and we are in the Provincetown library checking our emails. Last night we went out for dinner and then watched the Tavis Smiley show on PBS as he took the big step forward and did a program about Martin Luther King Jr.'s courageous 1967 anti-war speech at Riverside Church in New York City. Smiley explored the severe criticism that King took for stepping outside his "civil rights box" when he leaped into the debate over the Vietnam War. King make the link between funding the imperial Asian war with cutbacks in the poverty programs at that time. He asked if America's soul was dead.

Dr. Vincent Harding, who is co-credited with writing the "Beyond Vietnam" speech, tells Smiley that King's inner circle worried about the ramifications of the speech, both before and after he gave it.

"We were concerned, he was concerned, but he had really come to the point, as the speech is trying to say, where if he was to be a man of conscience, a man of compassion, he had to speak," said Dr. Harding.

He added, "But it was precisely one year to the day after this speech that that bullet which had been chasing him for a long time finally caught up with him. And I am convinced that that bullet had something to do with that speech."

Smiley then boldly showed bits of Obama's recent Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech where he tried to justify his war in Afghanistan by saying that non-violence had its place but that he as president had the responsibility to protect against "terrorism".

Smiley asked Harry Belafonte (who was a close friend and confidant to MLK) about this and Belafonte blistered Obama's thinking as did Cornel West who called Obama an agent of Pharaoh.

This was a very significant show because it opened the door for the black leadership class to begin to publicly critique Obama in ways that prior to now have been verboten.

You could sense that Smiley was himself struggling with how much to begin challenging Obama but it was crystal clear that the example of MLK was the model that he and others were using to guide them on road to truth.

The good folks at Black Agenda Report have not been timid to take on Obama and have been pressuring the likes of Smiley and West to become more vocal. It appears now that they have done so.

They are now free of the chains that can bind conscience.

You can watch the show here

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