By Terri Michal
You can’t have community without unity, but as Glenn Beck taught us this weekend, I guess you CAN have unity without community.
Well, you can appear to, anyway.
With carefully placed camera angles, t-shirts quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, an abundance of posters displaying the words justice, and unity on them, along with pictures of Abraham Lincoln, and finally, the premier of a movie about the desegregation of our public schools, Mr. Beck managed to fabricate a “unity” march, smack dab in the middle of Birmingham, Alabama. Yes, Birmingham, Alabama, the Democratic cradle of the least blue state in the country.
While operating in “stealth mode,” Glenn Beck managed to pull off a march with upwards of 20,000 people, of which, a huge majority were white, in a city that is 73 percent black, leaving the city scratching its head wondering, “What the he** just happened?”
Now is the time I’d normally stand and shout, “Bravo…BRAVO!,” while clapping wildly for such a well-executed piece of theatre; but not this time. This time, I just feel sick to my stomach. Not because the crowd was almost entirely white, certainly not because he’s a Republican, and not even because it appears a majority of them were from out of state (Remember, Dr. King was considered an “outside agitator” himself here in Alabama).
What has me sick to my stomach is the fact that they used issues of race relations, both past and present, as a FUNDRAISER to help Christians in the Middle East. Now, don’t get me wrong: if anyone wants to raise money for that, then, by all means, please do. But, don’t come to the heart of the Civil Rights movement, and hijack the narrative about race relations to make money for a totally different cause. A person has to wonder why Bishop Lowe from Guiding Light Church went along with this plan.
I imagine the conversation went something like this:
Beck to Bishop Lowe: “We know your city suffered badly during the civil rights struggle, but it’s over now, so let us show this movie about one of your last all-white schools to desegregate, you know, Woodlawn, the one that was next door to the Eastview 13 Klavern where the Klan met. Aren’t they the ones that bombed the church? Anyway…..the movie fades to black after the newly desegregated football team wins, and everyone is cheering. We will ignore the fact that all 44 of your schools are now high poverty.
Terri Michal is founder of her own grassroots group, SOS Support our Students, she also heads the Alabama BATs, is an administrator with the national Badass Teacher’s Association and is Co-chair of Moral Monday Alabama. You may contact her at [email protected]