Saturday, December 22, 2007

Mitt Romney: According to some, sounding like Bill Clinton

I didn't think anything of it when I heard Mitt Romney had said his father marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. I consider it unique, perhaps, but not all that unusual.

In March of 1965, my old man, an Episcopal priest at a country parish in northern New Jersey, went to Alabama to participate in the march from Selma to Montgomery. Now, I likely saw my father leave the house, but I certainly didn't see him actually march. The family lore is that he bummed money from his parents in order to get bus fare to travel to Alabama. And in terms of marching, I don't know if the old man actually marched with Dr. King, hand-in-hand, or if they brushed shoulders as they walked along the road in the surge of humanity, or if the only time my father saw Dr. King was from two hundred yards at the Alabama Capital. But I'm pretty certain, there was some marching, some walking, some moving of feet there.

Today I read an article from Tim Reid, a Washington-based correspondent for the London-based The Times, Mitt Romney forced to backpedal over Martin Luther King claim. Turns out he used both the word "saw" and the word "march" in a metaphorical sense. As in, "I was aware that my father supported Dr. King's efforts for civil rights." Really as in, "I didn't actually see anything, and my father didn't actually march, but I still saw my father march with Dr. King." Oh, right. Figuratively. Metaphorically. As in figure of speech.

From a chronology posted at The King Center for 1965:
February 21
Malcolm X, leader of the Organization of Afro-American Unity and former Black Muslim leader, is murdered in New York City.

March 7
A group of marching demonstrators (from SNCC and SCLC) led by SCLC’s Hosea Williams are beaten when crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge on their planned march to Montgomery, Alabama, from Selma, Alabama. Their attackers were state highway patrolmen under the direction of Al Lingo and sheriff’s deputies under the leadership of Jim Clark. An order by Governor Wallace had prohibited the march.

March 9
Unitarian minister, James Reeb, is beaten by four white segregationists in Selma. He dies two days later.

March 15
President Johnson addresses the nation and Congress. He describes the voting rights bill he will submit to Congress in two days and uses the slogan of the Civil Rights Movement, “We Shall Overcome.”

March 16
Sheriff’s deputies and police on horseback in Montgomery, Alabama beat black and white demonstrators.

March 21 – 25
Over three thousand protest marchers leave Selma for a march to Montgomery, Alabama protected by federal troops. They are joined along the way by a total of twenty-five thousand marchers. Upon reaching the capitol, they hear an address by Dr. King.

March 25
Mrs. Viola Liuzzo, wife of a Detroit Teamsters Union business agent, is shot and killed while driving a carload of marchers back to Selma.
Coming up on 43 years ago. Much has changed; and sadly, much also has not changed.

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