Monday, January 16, 2006

My Speech to the NAACP Today, MLK Day

There were probably about 200-300 people at Eureka's Adorni Center today for the NAACP's annual remembrance of Martin Luther King, Jr. I was asked to speak about voting but felt that I didn't know enough about the audience, other speakers, or the event in general to prepare a fully written presentation. I went in with a few notes and improvised something along the following lines...
When the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 I was not yet born. I do remember last August when the NAACP put on a big event in Atlanta to commemorate the 40th anniversary of this landmark legislation. I remember Barbara Lee, Cynthia McKinney and John Conyers. They all spoke about stolen elections. The Black Caucus has shown the country's greatest leadership since our constitutional crisis began during the 2000 election.

I remember a year ago last week when the Congresswoman from Ohio, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, along with California's own Barbara Boxer, stood up and made the unprecedented challenge to the 2004 election.

When we hear about the problems with our elections, we learn that 30% of the votes cast around the country in November 2004 were cast on paperless electronic machines. Those votes are unverifiable. They cannot be recounted. No matter what, we can't really know how those votes were truly cast, or what the election's outcome rightfully ought to be.

We hear about private corporations that make these election machines. The machines run on software considered "proprietary," and it is kept secret from the public. Not even our local elections officials know how it works.

Of course we hear a lot about disenfranchisement too. But that's not just for the poor, or African Americans. It isn't even limited to Democratic strongholds. Let me tell you something. Disenfranchisement is universal. And it is guaranteed. If we can't recount the votes, nobody's vote counts and we are all disenfranchised. When we hold elections under these conditions, the Consent of the Governed is not being sought.

Where does this phrase come from, Consent of the Governed? I see a lot of children here today and I know that the Declaration of Independence is still taught in school. Parents, is it enough for your kids to hear the words, or do you think the spirit of Dr. King says they must grasp the meaning too? For some context, the Declaration says:
Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to these Ends--the self-evident truths that we are created equal with unalienable Rights to Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness--it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such principles and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness
And so we must say, to such unacceptable election conditions: WE DO NOT CONSENT. And to the destruction of the environment: WE DO NOT CONSENT. Can I hear you say it with me now: WE DO NOT CONSENT. Spying on Americans: WE DO NOT CONSENT. War, war, and more war on phony scapegoats: WE DO NOT CONSENT. Peaceful demonstrators labeled as terrorists: WE DO NOT CONSENT. No more innocent until proven guilty: WE DO NOT CONSENT.

How long are we going to continue to allow our citizens to be jailed without charges, detained indefinitely without access to an attorney? We must understand, in the greatest spirit of Dr. King, that non-violent revolution has become necessary, NOW!

I want to invite you all to attend a community forum on Saturday, February 11, starting at 2pm at the Vets Hall. We will be working on what each of us can do, and what we can all do together to take responsibility for turning our words into deeds and truly beginning the peaceful revolution.

Dr. King spoke of Freedom, of being In the Light, and of Every Person Counting. Of this responsibility we each have to the Dream. That Each of us can stand up in a NON-violent way, Oppose the wrongness in our ill society. That only by each of us standing up, being responsible, and demanding that responsibility from our leaders, will we be a Free People. Without a vote, we have no voice, and without a voice, how can we demand this responsibility? Without a voice, we are not a Free People.

WE DO NOT CONSENT.

Thank you.


Special thanks to Ian Blei.

4 comments

4 Comments:

Whoa. That is one fine speech! Wish I'd been there.

By Anonymous Kathryn, at 1:36 AM  

Excellent speach!
Thank you!

By Anonymous Nancy, at 1:36 PM  

Interesting that the Times-Standard and The Eureka Reporter ignored it completely. I guess they'd rather avoid the real civil rights debate in favor of pretty pictures and recycled pablum. Any real media around here going to cover this?

By Anonymous Critter Wilkie, at 9:26 PM  

real media in humboldt? keep dreaming.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:48 PM  

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