By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
As many celebrate the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., it is the spirit of the revolution be championed that must be remembered because there is still much to overcome.
Even though the day celebrating Dr. King’s birth was signed into law in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan, it is still a joint celebration known as Robert E. Lee/Martin Luther King’s Birthday in our State.
Perhaps this is why House Speaker Mike Hubbard, who is charged by the State with 23 felony counts of public corruption, doesn’t see the irony of holding a House Republican caucus meeting and fundraiser, on the day the nation remembers the legacy of the fallen civil rights leader or it could be that he fails to realize that old sins cast a very long shadow.
A number of all-white, predominantly-male Republicans will meet at the Prattville Marriott today to discuss strategies and raise money, while being led by a man who was arrested for using his office for personal gain.
I respect the courage and character of Gen. Lee, and doubt he would find Hubbard an honorable man. Hubbard, a second-rate chiseler, is the self-proclaimed architect of the Republican takeover of our State government. He has more in common with the carpet-baggers, and segregationists of old, than the true spirit of the real GOP, or our Alabama today.
No matter how one feels about the politics of Dr. King, his life now stands as a symbol of liberation for the millions of Americans, who suffered under vile oppression at the hands of their fellow citizens. Dr. King and his followers never asked for more that what the Declaration of Independence declared: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
Still today, many of our leaders regard Americans of African descent, all women and even children as less than full citizens of our State. Far too often are the needs of the many sacrificed for the fortunes of a few. Hubbard has turned the State House into a temple of patronage where lobbyists, and powerful interests hold sway over every piece of legislation that comes before it.
These too are things that Dr. King fought against, raising his voice for all who were disenfranchised by a system dominated by a few white men, and the corporations that owned them.
Hubbard’s House is more reminiscent of 1956 than 2016.
King said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” For Hubbard it is “What can you do for me?” Hubbard selfishly holds on to power and his lack of decency will be on full display at the caucus meeting and the dash-for-cash that follows. It is shocking to think that people will actually attend a fundraiser under this man’s control, on a day in which we honor Lee and King.
King said, “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
Hubbard chose his path, and that too will be on display in Prattville.
Perhaps those whose quiet consent have allowed Hubbard to remain Speaker should heed the words of Lee when he said, “I think it better to do right, even if we suffer in so doing, than to incur the reproach of our consciences and posterity.”
King gave his life in a cause greater than himself. He was murdered for his stand, but stand he did.
King was a uniter. Hubbard is a divider.
King said “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.”
I am told that before Hubbard there was a brief period when this actually occurred at the State House…but no more.
In his song, Shed a Little Light, James Taylor sings:
“Oh, Let us turn our thoughts today
To Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us.
All men and women living on the Earth,
Ties of hope and love,
Sister and brotherhood.”
It is time we “be about the business” and not that which is presently afoot under Hubbard’s leadership.
The spirit of Dr. King must live on, that all will have a place at the table we call the American Dream. Until then, every man, woman and child of every color, and every creed, must sing in their hearts as one,
“We Shall Overcome, We Shall Overcome, We Shall Overcome Someday
Deep In My Heart, I Do Believe, We Shall Overcome Someday.”