As we celebrate this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King holiday, I’m reflecting on one of his most famous speeches: “The Drum Major Instinct.”
Dr. King was a thoughtful defender of freedom and liberty. We can give full credit to him for two of the most important pieces of legislation that buttressed and clarified our Constitution’s intent in the last 100 years, the Civil Rights Act and The Voting Rights Act.
Our Constitution is under attack again. We are faced with a front runner of the Republican Party, Donald Trump, who is a full-fledged addict of the drum major instinct — and has gone so far in his quest for self aggrandizement that he has described a vision for America that Martin Luther King fought his whole life against.
Once again, our Constitution’s defense will come from those who are still most oppressed. But that defense must be rallied.
In the last two presidential elections, Black Americans voted at a higher percentage than white Americans. The candidate who did not care about the 47 percent, who was not concerned about poor people, lost to an incumbent running the worst economy since 1933. It would’ve been easy for America to succumb to fear and not care about the 47 percent. The mighty “turn out to vote” efforts among those who have the least saved the day. President Obama’s leadership led us out of the Great Recession, provided medical insurance for millions of poor Americans and ended two unjust wars.
A very important civil rights battle will be fought in November; we must get out to vote. I recently spoke with Octavio Hinojosa Mier — Executive Director, National Hispanic Corporate Council. One of his organization’s initiatives is to encourage people who are here with documents to become citizens as quickly as possible. I suggested that Latino employee resource groups could be mobilized for that effort. Every corporation wants their people to be as productive as possible — citizens are more secure and more confident than people who are just here legally with paperwork, especially when a presidential front runner describes your people as rapists and murderers and goes on to denigrate women, immigrants, Muslims, people with disabilities, etc.
The only way to defeat this pernicious evil drum major is to exercise your right to vote this November and help other people to exercise their right to vote. There are more of us than there are of them (Trump’s support is less affluent, less educated and older than the average Republican), but we have to vote in order to make it official.
I hope you have a meaningful holiday.
Slideshow: Living Through the Words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.