Headline July 24th, 2012 / The Every-Round Fighter



Yale University 2005. The scene is tense and serious. Jackson arrives at the rally, tne last speaker is winding down. Stepping up to the microphone, he wastes no time on the preaambles. 
"We the people......"
Audience: ''We the people..''
Jackson: ''Have a right....''
Audience: ''Have a right...''
Jackson: ''To organise....''
Audience: ''To organise...''

Again the cause is suffering graduate students. This being Yale and 2005, it's hard to tell the serious protesters from the postmodern pranksters. Some of the signs say 'No Taxation Without Representation' and 'U.S. Out Of Vietnam Now.' 

And Jackson starts his speech in his usual soft rumble, riding the oppressed graduate students to the war in Iraq to Goodman and Chanay and Schwerner, his voice steadily building the sweeping cadences of the southern church. 

What if black football players had to get twelve yards for a first down to ''prove'' themselves? What if white football players had to do only eight yards because they ''inherited'' the other two? There'd be a fight after every game! ''We didn't know how good baseball could be till everybody could play!'' 

Here and there, and then everywhere heads start to nod. It's hard to resist the passion in that rich voice, the very very stirring call to justice. But then Jackson strides to the TV cameras. ''You have been arrested,'' a reporter from the Fox says. ''What next?'' 'The struggle will go on.' The Fox reporter keeps a straight voice, but her eyes widen just a little. The Struggle! 

Does he even know what decade this is? From Martin Luther King Jr, and the Rainbow Coalition to Terri Schiavo and Michael Jackson, this soldier from the great war fights on and on. Let's see for what, now? With the merciless ravages of time, Jackson's beginning to seem tired. 

His face is puffy. There's a spot on his collar. His shoulders sag, revealing a substantial gut. But in a conference room across campus, there's a group of activists who focus on the Yale-New Medical Center, trying to shake money for local playgrounds and higher salaries. They look up at him, waiting for him to say something. 

He tells them that everything Dr King fought for in the sixties is on the chopping block because the right wing backlash wants to roll back labor and civil rights, and we are fighting for a democracy in Iraq that we don't have at home, the same basic speech he has been giving all day. 

With repetition, it begins to seem more and more like something from a left wing Ikea, a mass of standardised parts linked together in slightly different ways. Even he doesn't seem to take his zinger about democracy seriously; sometimes he qualifies it, explaining that he means the ''proportional democracy'' Bush is pressing on the Shiites and the Kurds as a way to avoid civil war. 

But most of the time he doesn't bother. He's moving too fast, talking too much, trying too hard. Onward he hurries to the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Each row is packed with pillars of the local black community, a thousand men and women dressed in suits and fancy dresses. 

Reverend Jackson starts off with ''I am somebody,'' and they shout back at him in a single voice: ''I am somebody!"

Good night & God bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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