A More Perfect Union
Monday, January 19th, 2009
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – As with so many people across the globe, today is very near and dear to Why Tuesday?’s heart. This organization was founded in the spirit of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by William B. Wachtel whose father, Harry, was a close friend and advisor Dr. King. So today, we also salute the accomplishments of Why Tuesday? Board members Andrew Young and Martin Luther King, III.
In this morning’s New York Times, Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. retold the story of how Dr. King spent – or forgot – his 39th birthday:
Dr. King spent his 39th birthday working. I remember him coming to the basement of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. He walked in that day around 9 a.m., after breakfast with his family, wearing blue jeans and a windbreaker. (I recall a bright, sunny day.) He convened the Southern Christian Leadership Conference staff and a rainbow coalition — blacks from the Deep South, whites from Appalachia, Jewish allies from New York, Latino farm worker organizers — to plan what would be his last campaign, the Poor People’s March to the nation’s capital. Though Dr. King had met with increasing hostility from the press and government, his mood was upbeat because we were energized by the vision of a new initiative to advance our movement.
Around noon Xernona Clayton, a friend of the King family, walked in with a birthday cake. She teased Dr. King, saying that he was “so busy you forgot to celebrate your own birthday.” Slightly embarrassed, Dr. King blew out the candles. We must have eaten the cake in record time because it seemed that within moments the plates were cleared and we were back in our meeting — with Al Lowenstein conducting a workshop about the march and how to step up pressure to end the Vietnam War.
Whether at work or enjoying a long weekend away from the office or celebrating the events in the Capitol, the best indication of our commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life is what we do tomorrow; Mr. Jackson continues:
That’s the model we should follow this week — and beyond. We should celebrate the election of our new president. And then we should get back to work to complete the unfinished business of making America a more perfect union.
At Why Tuesday?, we believe fixing America’s voting system is an integral piece of the more perfect union-puzzle. Last week, Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Representative Steve Israel (D-NY) introduced the Weekend Voting Act in the Senate and the House. At the risk of stating the obvious… whether it is health care, our economy, environment or various global conflicts, we are faced with new and exceedingly tough challenges. Accordingly, Why Tuesday?’s most challenging work lays ahead as we build support for weekend voting and make election reform an issue we can no longer afford to avoid.
Photo of Ambassador Andrew Young and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. via Flickr.