Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I've read several blog posts - like this one - where the concluding benediction at yesterday's inauguration is discussed. I was interested in the bit near the end, the bit where all colours of humanity were covered:
Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around -- (laughter) -- when yellow will be mellow -- (laughter) -- when the red man can get ahead, man -- (laughter) -- and when white will embrace what is right.

And the question which interested me was about how white activists for racial equality might feel about it, for I know some such people. So I asked my friends, and the answer came back. Yes, they felt "pissed" (in the American sense, ie not drunk, but fed up); they felt it was "inappropriate". The thing is, I don't think I can comment, because I have never had to stick my neck out in this particular battle, have never suffered for it. But the very fact that it is white people who have made the running for so long must give us pause for thought. It's a hard one. Real equality is not so easily achieved - for does that not mean that none of us will even notice our differences?


  1. Chris,
    I posted the final words of the benediction, just as you did, plus video of the entire prayer. Joseph Lowery is a hero, and sort of local.

    Here's what I said:

    You don't need me to tell you that Rick Warren's prayer was lack-luster; but that Joseph Lowery's prayer ended with a bang.

    Of course I'm a white activist of sorts for all kinds of equality.

    I was not upset at all. Here in Alabama there are plenty of whites that do not embrace what is right.

    I watched the inauguration with a group of mostly black Bessemer officials. We all laughed a bit at the prayer, and I don't know if the black people thought I might be pissed or feel uneasy, but I didn't.

    You know, white's (at least a vocal number) seem to be having trouble accepting the brown (Hispanics) and the other brown (Arab and Asian, especially when they are Muslim) so maybe Lowery has a point.

    Did you see Lowery's prayer at Coretta Scott King's funeral? He always gets his digs in. You gotta love him.

  2. I should have put quotes around what I said.

    "You don't need me to tell you that Rick Warren's prayer was lack-luster, but that Joseph Lowery's prayer ended with a bang."

  3. Anonymous9:03 AM


    I don't think racial equality is about not about being blind to the differences but about appreciating and celebrating diversity.

    London is a good example of how people with different cultural and belief frameworks live in relative harmony.

    If we want to have a society where we don't notice someone's sex or colour then the white man has won.

  4. Chris, it would seem that many times when differences begin to fade away, those who seemingly want the differences to disappear bring them up again...
    Things *do* get better, after all. It has been YEARS since I was called a "Pollock". Of course, the poor misinformed youngster who lodged such abuse against me failed to realize I was, after all, Ukrainian, not Polish!
    Prejudices run deep and are hard to rid. When traveling around the US, it seems there were certain areas where they were more rampant. Oh, that hatred would just go away. But, that day is reserved for another time....

  5. i noticed soon as he started that part of the prayer i suspected it was coming. sometimes it seems to me that some of the people who have done the most for equality feel the need for these "digs". i dont understand that. of course there are many things i dont understand. i lived in the 40s 50s and 60s in alabama...montgomery and birmingham...and hsve never understood segregation or inequality in any area. i embrace equality in all humanity...and try not to get caught up in a specific group. we lose unity when we divide ourselves into special purpose groups.
    i agree with mrs toshs ideas ..
    however i also believe as i have said many times "we will do well to realize our similarities instead of focusing on our differences"

  6. Anonymous11:58 PM

    If you follow this link (I don't know how to make it active - just paste it into your address line) - - and look to the right of the screen for Tuesday night's edition, you will find Jon Stewart's take on the auspicious day. The conclusion of the benediction is in there somewhere.

    You'll also find a splendid interview with +Gene. It proves that he has a nice line in humourous self-awareness!

    (I did try to send the clips last night, but they seemed to vanish into the ether, leaving no trace. Did they reach you, Mrs B?)

  7. abf, the links arrived safely - only had time, alas, to watch one so far. I shall catch up this this evening.

  8. I found something interesting as I was researching for a book I am writing. In Montgomery, AL at the conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965, Dr. King included this in his remarks.

    "Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding. We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. And that will be a day not of the white man, not of the black man. That will be the day of man as man."

  9. Why my name has been changed to "A progressive voice" I don't know. I'll look into it.But the post is from Joe at Bessemer Opinions.