Today would’ve been Betty White’s 100th birthday if she was still alive. While most have said that they should donate local animal shelters and humane societies in her name, we should also remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as it’s his federally recognized day of recognition. Dr. King was born on Jan. 15 but both him and White, among many others, did so much for civil rights, we should remember them both and others.
Sadly, the attempt to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Acts has hit another stall in Congress as the usual two spoiled brats in the Senate, Joe Manchin and Kyrtsen Sinema, still act like it’s not a good deal. Maybe Sinema’s afraid that if she voted in favor of it, people will vote her out in 2024. Ironically, this is the only way to make her re-election more plausible. At 74, Manchin will be lucky to see re-election in 2024.
But we should continue to keep on our own legislators, even if they won’t listen to us. And I’m talking more at the state level then the federal level. So many people, who are Republicans, are terrified their days are numbered and they’re right. It’s become a part of white supremacy and voter suppression. Fox News may lie, but the Internet’s news sites are more believable with younger voters. And AT&T has refused to carry One America Network through DirecTV, which means most of the people who still waste more money on satellite TV than streaming, will lose their network.
Now, while Dr. King did a lot for civil rights. He wasn’t alone. He had the late Mr. Lewis to help him as well as others. Lewis was one of those who was savagely beaten by law enforcement on March 7, 1965 in Selma, Ala. TV news station captured it and it was broadcast throughout America and the change was coming right after that.
Things are different now. The same people who watched those images in their parents’ home now want people to believe that the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection coup attempt didn’t happen. The reason they don’t think it happen is because they believe there was a lot of fraud at the polls in 2020. So, that’s why the states passed outrageous voting restrictions laws, excuse me, provisions.
Anyway, MLK Day should be very important today because it’s a reminder that almost 60 years later, we’re still dealing with this mess. When people don’t want you to do something that is the right thing to do, then you have to continue to do it because they’re afraid of what’s going to happen. If they can get the ignorant people to believe there’s voting fraud or even the possibility of voting fraud, then they can get them to stand behind whatever crazy ideas they say.
It’s been reported that White refused to remove tap dancer Arthur Duncan from her show The Betty White Show in 1954. White pretty much told the powers to be “Live with it!” They canceled her show. But she didn’t cave. Seven decades later and she’s more revered than the stuffed shirts who canceled her.
Sidney Poitier was another civil rights pioneer who did his work on TV and movie. Ironically he died on the one year anniversary of the insurrection. During an era when most people were used to seeing black men just as butlers or servers, he portrayed doctors, teachers and police officers. A scene in In the Heat of the Night where his character gets slapped by a racist sheriff, he slaps him back. Poitier had a restriction in his contract the scene had to play in every movie theater in America. Two years after what became known as Bloody Sunday in Alabama, you couldn’t show a movie where a black police officer gets hit for no reason without showing him hitting back.
On this day, if you have the day off, contact your legislators anywhere. Just because their offices may be closed, doesn’t mean they take a day off. Send them e-mails and leave them voicemails. There’s so many ways to honor the memories of Dr. King, Lewis, Poitier and White and many others today.