By: Casimir ‘Cas’ Spencer
Last week, I watched in horror as Senator Elizabeth Warren was silenced by Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell as she recited a passionate and powerful letter written by the Honorable Coretta Scott King over 30 years ago, in opposition of then Judge Jefferson Sessions’ nomination to an Alabama Federal judgeship. Her words unveiled an unfavorably grim picture of Sessions as being a constant intimidator of elderly black voters, who no doubt fought to obtain those rights in the foregoing years.
Sessions’ nomination would later be withdrawn – approximately four months after King’s letter, with the Senate Judiciary Committee citing “reasonable doubts” over his ability to be “fair and impartial.”
31 years later, February 8, 2017, here we were again. Sessions had been nominated for yet another post he is still morally unqualified for. But this time a much more hierarchical post which could produce irrevocably dangerous ramifications for people of color and immigrants. The United States Attorney General.
As I watched Warren begin to read this letter with the same passion and conviction that Coretta wrote it in, I became emotional because I understood just how powerful Coretta was to the civil rights movement, to this country, to black people, to women and more specifically black women.
I don’t claim to be an all knowing feminist, or even a feminist at all but, I am very proud of the woman I am and the women who have come before me and paved the way. Coretta Scott King is one of those women who I admire beyond measure, and a woman I aspire to replicate. A mother, a wife, a teacher, a mentor, a friend, an advocate.
When Mitch McConnell silenced Senator Warren, he silenced Black women.
The symbolism in the silencing was deafening. A white woman stands on the senate floor before a majority male senate, reciting the words written by a black woman, that which criticized a white man in a position of power. This is symbolic of the position of the female voice, but specifically the black female voice.
The black woman’s voice is always somehow muffled by the words of more important voices, unless those voices speak on her behalf. And while numerous male Senators came behind Warren and recited Coretta’s words in solidarity with Warren, they also delivered those words in solidarity with this powerful black woman whose reach is far beyond the grave. Without those voices, her voice would not have been heard that evening. But because of those voices, millions now know her words and her reach. Although the Democratic male senators show of support is both admirable and meritorious, the fact that it was even necessary at all is sobering.
As black people, the fight to have our voices heard is all too familiar. We know the arduous journey that lies ahead for those who have the courage to fight against the dark comedy that is this current White House administration.
Warren’s silencing and Sessions’ subsequent confirmation as the United States Attorney General, shows the ugly truth of this administration. It shows the bigotry, misogyny, racism and sexism that it boasts as its crooked platform.
For everyone who is disgusted by the numerous mind boggling events that have occurred in the subsequent days of the inauguration, I urge you to organize and advocate for the change you want to see. I hear some saying it is no use in demonstrating or protesting but, I disagree. For demonstrations and protests are how we escaped Jim Crow. It’s how we won the right to vote. It’s how we show our dissatisfaction and disapproval of an administration that will get worse before it gets better. Civil unrest has long been the remedy and vehicle for change.
Protest! Advocate! Demonstrate! Through your words, your art, your voice. Resist and persist. Coretta would’ve wanted it that way.