We need to speak out

Published: Friday, January 21, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 20, 2005 at 10:40 p.m.
As an old civil-rights worker who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1966, first in Selma and later when the Freedom Drive opened in Chicago, I think I know the answer to the question on the front page of the Jan. 16 Issues & Trends section: "What would Martin Luther King have made of Condoleezza Rice?"
I am very sure Dr. King would have opposed the war in Iraq even as he opposed the war in Vietnam. I think he would have said to both Bush and Rice what he said of that war: "I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours."
The article on Secretary of State-nominee Rice said she came from the family of a Birmingham minister who did not speak out in support of the civil-rights movement. It also said she was a good friends of one of the four little girls killed in a Birmingham church bombing.
Statistics say only 10 percent of the nation's black population were actively involved in the movement. Most remained silent for fear of losing jobs or other white retaliation, although many quietly contributed essential funds.
I found Gainesville's King Week 2005 an inspiring reminder of the courage and determination shown by Dr. King and his followers. They risked their lives to stand up for equality and many died in that struggle.
We don't risk our lives by speaking out today. Now the enemy is a more covert form of racism and a real fear of disagreeing with those who support the war in Iraq.
Funds are short for education and other human services. Billions of taxpayer dollars go to the war. Millions go to tax cuts for the already wealthy. The death rate mounts for American servicemen and women and is even higher for innocent Iraqi civilians.
Harriet Ludwig, Gainesville

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