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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Freedom and Equality for All??

Today’s boycott reminds me of a comedic theater piece by the celebrated playwright, actor and one of the co-founders of the Negro Ensemble Company, Douglas Turner Ward. It is a story told in one act entitled Day of Absence.

It’s a satire about an imaginary Southern town where all the black people have suddenly disappeared. The only ones left are sick and lying in hospital beds, refusing to get well. Infants are crying because strange parents are tending them.

The Mayor pleads for the President, Governor, and the NAACP to send him "a jackpot of jigaboos." On a nationwide radio network broadcast he calls on the blacks, wherever they are, to come back. In a telecast he shows them the cloths with which they wash cars and the brushes with which they shine shoes as sentimental reminders of the goodies that await them.

In the end the blacks begin to reappear, as mysteriously as they had vanished, and the white community, sobered by what has transpired, breathes a sigh of relief at the return of the rather uneasy status quo. What will happen next is left unsaid, but the suggestion is strong that things will never quite be the same again.

I am reminded of this piece because it was the emancipation of blacks from enslavement and the historic legislation that followed that led to the rights and status of immigrants, legal and illegal in this country. If not for the emancipation and the historic landmark amendments guaranteeing freedom and equality, (see United States Constitution Amendments 13 and 14), for all people that followed, millions of people from all over the world would not have risked life and limb to be in this place that offered an opportunity to do better. The French gave us the statue that stands on Liberty Island in New Jersey, outside Manhattan, because our nation was a beacon of hope.

Why are the Republicans and so many millions of Americans determined to turn off the light?

In Our United States Freedom and Equality for All??

While millions of Americans routinely went to work today, several million others, immigrants, legal and illegal, and their supporters participated in protest marches around the nation to express their opposition to proposed changes in the immigration laws.
Has America lost its desire to remain the land of opportunity? Is our country now a democracy only for the privileged?

Here’s how Associated Press writer Gillian Flaccus reported today’s nationwide demonstrations by millions of legal and illegal immigrants, along with their sympathizers, in the United States in response to legislators in Washington who are considering a massive reformation of the immigration laws.
.....From Los Angeles to Chicago, Houston to New Orleans, the "Day Without Immigrants" attracted widespread participation despite divisions among activists over whether a boycott would send the right message to Washington lawmakers considering sweeping immigration reform.
"We are the backbone of what America is, legal or illegal, it doesn't matter," said Melanie Lugo, who with her husband and their third-grade daughter joined a rally of some 75,000 in Denver. "We butter each other's bread. They need us as much as we need them."
..... Police estimated 400,000 people marched through Chicago's business district. There were two major rallies in Los Angeles, the first of which the mayor's office estimated drew 250,000 people to a typically destitute downtown. Tens of thousands more marched in New York, along with about 15,000 in Houston and 30,000 more across Florida. Smaller rallies in cities from Pennsylvania and Connecticut to Arizona and South Dakota attracted hundreds not thousands.....

The boycott was organized by immigrant activists angered by federal legislation that would criminalize illegal immigrants and fortify the U.S-Mexico border. Its goal was to raise awareness about immigrants' economic power.

Industries that rely on immigrant workers were clearly affected, though the impact was not uniform.

Today’s marches remind me of a comedic theater piece by the celebrated playwright, actor, and one of the co-founders of the Negro Ensemble Company,Douglas Turner Ward. The play is in one act entitled
Day of Absence.