November 22, 2020 Today is the anniversary of one of the most tragic moments in modern American history–the murder of President John F. Kennedy. I was only a college kid then, but I remember like it happened this week. It felt tragic, was tragic, and frightening too. Suddenly the most important position in the world had been vacated by the act of at least one murderer. At the close of that day it was still unclear whether the killing had been the act of a single individual or the consequence of much larger ambitions than the killing of a single person. Years later I had abundant confirmation of my worst fears when people I knew to be as carefully conservative in their judgement as they were in their lifestyles confirmed my worst fears about the events of November 22, 1963. Reliable witnesses told me that they had been at the leading Dallas country club hours before the killing, and that they had heard several happily excited leading citizens rejoicing openly about what they were sure was the day John Kennedy would be eliminated as a thorn in the sides of their likes. It was that very day they were sure; of course they predicted what they knew was planned for that very day.
Bob Dylan has recently released a song that commemorates the sad truth that the assassination of November 1963 was the result of a true conspiracy to change the direction of American political policy though “murder most foul”. I have carried my own feelings about that reality in a bag in which are stored the nightmares of a long life.
Today I spent about an hour watching President Trump and his henchmen make serious efforts to replace the sitting President with the same man–himself serving a second term denied him by both the popular vote of the people and the electoral college. And I have watched Kelly Lefler and David Perdue, the Senators from my home state of Georgia, defame their opponents and endeavor to keep their seats through character assassination rather than bullets. Lefler in particular personifies exactly the kind of soulless hatred and arrogance which my friends overheard from wealthy denizens of Dallas in 1963. She has never served a day of public service in her life until her ambition coupled with the great wealth that owns the New York Stock Exchange propelled her into the uncontestable position of she-who-must-be-appointed-to-succeed when an ailing Georgia Senator retired in the middle of his term. Her ambition drives her to denounce the Republican Secretary of State for allowing the votes of Georgia citizens to determine that the Democratic nominee actually beat Trump in the election of 2020 in this State. Now it drives her to to use the current racist catchwords for any Black man–“gangster” and “thug”–and the current slander that uses “socialist” as the buzzword slur on any politician who believes that government should guarantee educational opportunities and access to medical care to all citizens. These are the current assassination tools of an economic and political elite which dominated this country in 1963 and which still dominates it today.
But what are the reasons–if there can be any–for the second part of the title of this posting, that “promise of a brighter day”. First and foremost, my home state of Georgia just became the first in the history of the deep South to become a two party state. The rejection of Donald Trump by a record turnout for Joe Biden makes this state one in which the most dominant party is being effectively challenged by an opposing party.
I had a hand in the effort in 1968 to replace Herman Talmadge with a Black man–Maynard Jackson. Jackson carried a majority of votes in Atlanta, thereby becoming the first Black person to win a majority vote in any southern city. Although he became the first African American to become the Mayor of major southern city a few years later, the state remained firmly in the control of the Democratic big money machine, which became the Republican big money machine in 2000. Now Raphael Warnock is contending for that same Senatorial seat that Maynard Jackson could not win in 1968. And he has a fighting chance to win it.
I also take heart from the fact that Georgians have been positively affected by the nationwide outcry over the police murder of George Floyd and the police killings of several Georgians in 2020. A lot of white Georgians are waking up to the roles of implicit racism in public policy as well as in their own private feelings and behavior. And Stacey Abrams has shown the country what can happen when there is a vigilant effort to register poor and African-American voters and to aggressively oppose the various tactics of the Brian Kemp variety of political bottom feeders, who use every means at their disposal to discourage voters who threaten the one party system.
So I am encouraged tonight. Trump will soon be out of office and others will have a chance to lead the nation in new and better paths. I am a sixth generation Georgian on both my Mother and my Father’s side. I have watched nearly eight decades of struggle in this to escape the horrors of racism and class exploitation. I have hope, and as Obama would say, when you have hope your determination can bring the promise of a brighter day.