The referendum on Georgia’s transportation tax increase won’t be on the ballot for more than a year but the Reverend Joseph Lowery is already playing his race card. In writing about the process surrounding the transportation project selection Mr. Lowery writes:
Originally, the committee was composed of all white men, mostly from the suburbs. This glaring imbalance prompted Rep. David Ralston, Speaker of the state House of Representatives, to intervene and request that Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed be added to the executive committee.
The painful truth is that Ralston, a white Republican from the north Georgia mountains, should not have been involved in such a local issue.
It’s also telling that other committee members failed to recognize that they did not reflect the region’s diverse demographics. It certainly was obvious to many average citizens in Fulton, DeKalb or the City of Atlanta, who collectively represent 40 percent of the vote within the 10-county region.
A similar misstep was brought to light by Mayor Reed last month. During a meeting of the Regional Roundtable, Reed pointed out that a team of consultants selected to manage the $5 million referendum campaign is also exclusively composed of white men.
You can read Mr. Lowery’s column here.
Of course the appearance of the race card during the transportation tax debate isn’t the only time Mr. Lowery has used it lately. Just a few months ago the news broke that the Reverend filed a lawsuit to dissolve cities in the state of Georgia because of he believes the incorporation of the cities were racist acts. You can read about that issue here.
It is sad to see a man with such a proud history stuck in the past. I have spent nearly 5 decades living in Georgia and I remember how things used to be. I am also well aware of the role that Mr. Lowery played during the civil rights movement. I respect what he did and I am grateful that my children will never be exposed to the kind of racism Mr. Lowery fought.
But with all due respect, this is 2011 and the world is not the same as it was in the 1950’s and 60’s. Children born today are 50 years removed from the segregationist policies that Mr. Lowery fought so valiantly. The vast majority of young white people think of segregation as something that might as well have happened in the stone age.
I am 46 years old and the Civil Rights Act was passed before I was born. People born today are farther removed from institutionalized racism than I was from the Great Depression and the depression seemed like ancient history when grown ups talked about it back then.
Time moves on… so do societies. Leaders need to move on as well.
I’m not saying that racism has been wiped off the face of the Earth any more than greed, lust or avarice have. But the world of 2011 is nearly a half a century removed from the racism that the Reverend Joseph Lowery is still fighting. Someone needs to help him understand that he tarnishes his place in history by continuing to fight battles that are already won. Incorporating a city and raising the taxes on every Georgian are policies we can debate but that does not make them racist acts.
Congratulations Reverend Lowery. You did it. Racism may not be extinct but it has been vanquished. It’s time to put the deck of race cards away.
My view of Atlanta’s civil rights icons was forever changed during the unfortunate 2006 Fulton County Commission race. I actually worked on a campaign for a Repub candidate, Bill Loughery. Bill and the other candidate , Lee Morris were great candidates who deserved an honest look and chance. They were definitely not given that and then trashed by some of the biggest names in Atlanta politics with their vicious “dogs and hoses” ad.
You really nailed it with this one. No one is saying there’s not more work to do. No one is saying racism is completely gone. But to act as if everything is a big, white conspiracy from the 1950’s is so outrageous and needless to say, gets in the way of actual solutions.
I can only explain Rev. Lowery and others actions as some kind of post-traumatic stress disorder thing where it’s literally impossible to move beyond.
Baker- Perhaps PTSD does explain it. It would certainly be preferable to the more cynical explanations which come to mind.