Black Leaders: Their Words Lacked Fire 50 Years Later

The commemorative 50th anniversary March on Washington was "a day filled with irony as speakers criticized the status quo that some black leaders have helped maintain," writes Courtland Milloy at the Washington Post.

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Thousands line the reflecting pond near the Lincoln Memorial. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

Writing at the Washington Post, Courtland Milloy expresses disappointment with Saturday's commemorative 50th anniversary March on Washington, calling it "a day filled with irony as speakers criticized the status quo that some black leaders have helped maintain."

Unlike the march in 1963, organized by socialist intellectuals A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin, the updated version featured politicians, media personalities and even the public-relations presence of Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Where would today's civil rights organizations be without their corporate sponsors?

Consumer research shows that the combined buying power of African Americans is expected to reach $1.1 trillion by 2015. The net worth of the 20 wealthiest blacks is more than $13 billion. And yet it took a $12.5 million line of credit from Wal-Mart to break ground on the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial that thousands flocked to see after the march.

Speaker after speaker lamented the blatant effort by Republicans and the U.S. Supreme Court to suppress the black vote. Left unsaid was that there are now more than 10,000 black elected officials in the country — some of whom are virtually ineffective because they lack political acumen and strategic skills.

Why vote at all if the politician in your gerrymandered black district is seeking just a title and not a job?

A common theme of the day was "fight to make America live up to her promise." But what about the broken promises black people have made to themselves during the past 50 years, such as honoring the legacy of those who gave so much and received so little in return?

Read Courtland Milloy's entire piece at the Washington Post.

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