Her observation that change can't wait on the politicians because they won't deliver it brings it back to the roots of the real government, The People, who are the only real source for durable change. If we had to wait for the politicians we'd never get anywhere. Her observations about the difference between a movement for change and protest is also valuable. I would endorse her statement about the necessity of WRITING DOWN the objectives of the movement so there will be a direction in front of all involved is essential. The phobia about committing to clear goals has hampered an awful lot of action in the past. A "movement" that has dozens of interest groups involved, working in all kinds of directions doesn't move anything anywhere except the hands of a clock and pages on the calendar.
Though she doesn't say so, it was clear that George W. Bush pretending, after eight years of standing against everything the Selma movement stood for, of supporting and augmenting the Supreme Court majority that has gutted the Voting Rights Act that was the goal of the event being remembered, was just a part of his brother, Jeb's, presidential campaign. That Jeb Bush along with Bush cousin John Ellis were the ones who triggered the stealing of the 2000 election made his for-show participation in that event intolerable. As she had been one of the most courageous figures in the 1960s struggle, she was about the only one who stood on principle that day by refusing to march. Here is a piece I wrote in response to her decision to not walk across the bridge because she would not be coopted by the Bush family PR op. I think she is credible as few others are on how the success of that effort came about.
It is wonderful to read about and hear one of the great heroines of the Civil Rights struggle, Diane Nash, continuing to witness for the truth and against those who are trying to co-opt the history of civil rights in the form of George W. Bush. She refused to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge due to his clearly political participation in it. I don't think she said it but I told a lot of people that this is consistent with what the Bush family does when another of its members is about to run for President. I am expecting some other PR moves like this in the coming weeks and months, all for nothing more elevated than the thief of the 2000 election, Jeb Bush to make his try for the same office he stole for his brother.
Here is what she said, in her own voice.
Here is something she said fifty-four years ago, as she was in the thick of that struggle, one of its most courageous and bold strategists and fighters.
I see no alternative but that this text must be a personal interpretation of my own experience within the region known as "Dixie"
My participation in the movement began in February 1960, with the lunch counter "sit-ins." I was a student at Fisk University, but several months ago I interrupted my schoolwork for a year in order to work full time with the movement. My occupation at present is coordinating secretary for the Nashville Nonviolent Movement.
I should not wish to infer that I speak for the southern movement, for I think that there is no single person who can do that. Although many of the following statements can be generalized for the entire movement in the South, I shall refer largely to Nashville, Tennessee, for that is where I have worked.
I submit, the, that the nonviolent movement in that city:
1. is based upon and motivated by love;
2. attempts to serve God and mankind;
3. strives toward what we call the beloved community.
This is religion. This is applied religion. I think it has worked for me and I think it has worked for you and I think it has worked for our Church...
... The problems in Berlin, Cuba, or South Africa are, I think, identical with the problem in Jackson, Mississippi, or Nashville, Tennessee. I believe that when men come to believe in their own dignity and in the worth of their own freedom, and when they can acknowledge the God and the dignity that is within every man, then Berlin and Jackson will not be problems. After I had been arrested from a picket line about three weeks ago, I jotted down the following note, with this meeting in mind:
If the policeman had acknowledged the God within each of the students with whom I was arrested last night, would he have put us in jail? Or would he have gone to the store we were picketing and tried to persuade the manger to hire Negroes and to treat all people fairly? If one acknowledges the God within men, would anyone be asking for a "cooling off period," or plead for gradualism, or would they realize that white and Negro Americas are committing a sin every day that they hate each other and every day that they allow an evil system to exist without doing all they can to rectify it as soon as they can?
Diane Nash, August 1961 address to the National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice from: Women and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965
edited by Davis W. Houck, David E. Dixon
I was going to spend an hour this morning typing out a long passage about the history I've been talking about for the past few days but when I read about what Diane Nash said and did this weekend, I knew there was someone who not only studied what I'm addressing but lived it and lives it.