America is still a democracy needing change

Monday, June 18, 2001 at 1:00am

When Jim Boyd stuffed a woman�s black pantsuit and red cotton-blend jacket with newspaper and stapled a computer printout of state Rep. Henri Brooks� face to a stuffed head, it was only a �figment of his imagination,� like so many others who have forgotten American history or failed the course as a student.

Many people refuse to stand visibly and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. America is a democracy, a country where citizens can refuse to do many things that are against their beliefs.

In Metro Council�s history, there have been people who have refused to recite the Pledge. When Christians have refused to read or recite the Church Covenant, they haven�t been thrown out of the Church. When policemen, judges or attorneys have failed to live or honor their creeds, certainly the policemen haven�t been fired or dismissed and the attorneys and judges haven�t been disbarred. America is still a democracy.

For her many notable deeds in public service, the community is lifting up Rep. Henri Brooks. The Pledge is her personal right as a citizen who lives in a country of free speech. If we search hard and look wide, all of us could burn an effigy of one another, should we choose the stupid route.

Like Charles Barron, I love America because � America is where the African-American church, affectionately known as the Black Church, was born. It�s where fellow Christians taught me about the holistic ministry of the Black Messiah, Jesus Christ, and I do love Jesus.

America is where Martin Luther King Jr. led a non-violent war against segregation, Jim Crowism and a second-class living standard for blacks and whites alike, and I do love Martin.

America is where Malcolm X and the Black Liberation movement were born, and I do love Malcolm.

America is where Harriet Tubman organized an underground railroad and traveled south to north 19 times freeing over 300 enslaved Africans, and I do love Harriet.

America is where Ms. Rosa Parks sat down on a bus motivating a proud people to stand up and fight for justice.

America is where the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin, told us to have �R-E-S-P-E-C-T.�

America is where the historic Million Man March took place in Washington, D.C. We closed down Congress and chased the president out of town as we united well over a million men under one God.

But most important, America is where little black, brown, red, yellow and white babies are crying out to us to save their futures. Therefore, I pledge allegiance to fight for social change and social transformation.

America needs a radical change. I pledge allegiance to mobilize massive voter registration, voter education and voter turnout drives.

I pledge allegiance to commit to economic empowerment and community revitalization plans of actions.

I pledge allegiance to fight for the enfranchisement of the disenfranchised.

I pledge allegiance to fight for the social, political and economic emancipation, as well as the complete and total liberation, of the oppressed masses of this nation.

A pledge is still just a promise, not an oath of office. America is still a democracy, whether many of us want it to be or not. As Americans, all of us have a right to pick and choose, vote, pay income taxes and die.

Keep your head high, Henri. We love you for what you truly are � an American.

The Rev. Neal Darby Jr. is executive director of the Greater Nashville Black Chamber of Commerce and Tennessee�s NAACP Conference branch area director.

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