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Faith of A Mustard Seed

by Barbara Woods-Washington

Barbara Woods Washington

Barbara Woods-Washington, M. Div.

In spite of the hatred towards Dr. Umar Johnson, he articulates a knowledge base that reveals him as one of the great minds of our times.  In his 2020 overview of “The War Against Black Life” (as Dr. Frances Cress Welsing delivers it; both poring into the field of Child Psychiatry with valuable contributions), Umar Johnson reminds us that the 2020 Protests ‘set off’ with the Police murder of George Floyd would become the most important protest since the 1963 March on Washington.

As a founding member of SCLC/Women, I attended the 20th Anniversary March on Washington— SCLC’s 25th Anniversary in 1983 and again, the 50th Anniversary in 2013 counting these two events as great historical milestone of my lifetime.  So to enter here this word from Dr. King concerning ‘Showdown for Nonviolence’.  It is included in ‘The Testament Of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.’ The introduction here says:

Dr. King had already been assassinated by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee, on 4 April 1968 when this article appeared.  The worst period of racial rioting in U.S. history erupted.  This article prophesied that these riots would occur because “America is reaping the harvest of hate and shame planted through generations of educational denial, political disfranchisement and economic exploitation of its black population.”

“The policy of the federal government is to play russian roulette with riots; it is prepared to gamble with another summer of disaster.  Despite two consecutive summers of violence, not a single basic cause of riots has been corrected.  All of the misery that stoked the flames of rage and rebellion remains undiminished.  With unemployment, intolerable housing and discriminatory education a scourge in Negro ghettos, Congress and the administration still tinker with trivial, halfhearted measures.

…We are taking action after sober reflection.  We have learned from bitter experience that our government does not correct a race problem until it is confronted directly and dramatically. …In the earlier Alabama actions, we set no time limits.  We simply said we were going to struggle there until we got a response from the nation on the issues involved.  We are saying the same thing about Washington.   …Just as we dealt with the social problem of segregation through massive demonstrations, …we are now trying to deal with the economic problems— the right to live, to have a job and income— through massive protest.  It will be a Selma-like movement on economic issues.

…A nationwide nonviolent movement is very important.  We know from past experience that Congress and the president won’t do anything until you develop a movement around which people of goodwill can find a way to put pressure on them, because it really means breaking that coalition in Congress.  It’s still a coalition-dominated, rural-dominated, basically southern Congress.  There are Southerners there with committee chairmanships, and they are going to stand in the way of progress as long as they can.  They get enough right-wing midwestern or northern Republicans to go along with them. …And we are honest enough to feel that we aren’t going to get any instantaneous results from Congress, knowing its recalcitrant nature on this issue and knowing that so many resources and energies are being used in Vietnam rather than on the domestic situation.

We call our demonstration a campaign for jobs and income because we feel that the economic question is the most crucial that black people and poor people generally, are confronting.   …When you have mass unemployment in the Negro community, it’s called a social problem; when you have mass unemployment in the white community, it’s called a depression…”

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