I was born in the U.S.A.
But because of my colour I'm suffering today,
The white man preaching democracy,
But the truth and in fact it's hypocrisy.
And we want Martin Luther King for president,
Tell it north and tell it south, mama,
Martin Luther King for president,
Spread the story all about,
Join together now and shout,
When Kennedy's finished without any doubt,
Martin Luther King for president,
Equality is what I crave,
I'll fight for it even to the grave,
Colour of skin is not my line,
Lord, you know I am colour blind!
Martin Luther King is the name,
A little Negro man with a hell of a brain,
Lord, Lord, Oh, what a brain,
He was sent by God from heaven above,
To integrate the south with peace and love
Excerpt from Martin Luther King for President by Slinger ”The Mighty Sparrow” Francisco from his album The Mighty Sparrow Sings True Life Stories Of Passion, People And Politics, released in 1964
The hope that the Mighty Sparrow expressed in this popular 1964 calypso died with the 1968 assassination of Dr. King. In 2008 there is another African American whose name is being celebrated in song, who is closer to becoming the President of the USA than any of us could ever have imagined when Sparrow sang “Martin Luther King for President.” Barack Obama is the first African American to become the presidential candidate of a major political party. Shirley Chisholm, born to immigrant parents (Guyanese father and Barbadian mother) in New York City, was the first African American to seek nomination as the Democrat’s presidential candidate in 1972. She was followed by several others including Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. All their efforts opened the door a little wider so that when it was Obama’s turn he did not have to fight the same battles they did. He did have similar battles to fight especially when the Clintons began their race baiting. The Clintons seemed to take offence that an African American would dare to challenge their white entitlement to the White House. So much so that at one point the Clintons were behaving as if they preferred to have the Republicans back in the White House just to ensure that if they (Bill and Hilary) did not get in, there would definitely be white people living in the White House. The Clintons made several remarks which were at least insensitive and at worst white supremacist.
In January 2008 Hilary Clinton said: “I would point to the fact that Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when he was able to get through Congress something that President Kennedy was hopeful to do, the president before had not even tried, but it took a president to get it done. That dream became a reality. The power of that dream became real in people's lives because we had a president who said, "We are going to do it," and actually got it accomplished.” There was a storm of protest from not only African Americans, but Americans of every stripe who had witnessed the tenacity, sense of purpose and the sacrifices of Dr. King and many other Civil Rights activists who put their lives on the line during the fight for basic human rights for African Americans. Clinton’s words seemed an attempt to negate the unwavering courage that Dr. King displayed as he battled a system that treated African Americans as though they were less than human in the land where their ancestors’ blood, sweat and unpaid labour had enriched white people.
Hilary Clinton seemed to forget that it was Dr. King’s leadership in June, 1964 that helped break the filibuster in the United States Senate and led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, known as the Open Accommodations Act. The Open Accommodations Act which became law on July 2nd, 1964, was the first piece of Civil Rights legislation, outlawing segregation in all public places and facilities. Dr. King was one of nine activists arrested when they attempted to integrate the Monson Motor Lodge restaurant in St. Augustine, Florida. One week later a group of activists, including several children, attempted to integrate the swimming pool at the Monson Motor Lodge. James Brock, the owner of the Monson Motor Lodge, enraged that African Americans had entered his “whites only” swimming pool, poured acid into the swimming pool. The photographs of Brock pouring the dangerous, toxic chemical into the swimming pool, barely missing a group of African American children, was broadcast internationally.
An article written by Dr. King which was published in January, 1969, nine months after his assassination, documents his thoughts about the role of the politicians who were in power during the Civil Rights struggle. Dr. King wrote; “The past record of the federal government, however, has not been encouraging. No president has really done very much for the American Negro, though the past two presidents have received much undeserved credit for helping us. This credit has accrued to Lyndon Johnson and John Kennedy only because it was during their administrations that Negroes began doing more for themselves. Kennedy didn't voluntarily submit a civil rights bill, nor did Lyndon Johnson. In fact, both told us at one time that such legislation was impossible. President Johnson did respond realistically to the signs of the times and used his skills as a legislator to get bills through Congress that other men might not have gotten through. I must point out, in all honesty, however, that President Johnson has not been nearly so diligent in implementing the bills he has helped shepherd through Congress.”
It was not the President who made the dream a reality as Clinton declared in January. It was the courage and determination of the demonstrators in St. Augustine plus the shocking pictures of acid poured into a swimming pool occupied by children that finally pushed the politicians to act. The courageous actions of Dr. King and other activists had a direct impact on the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Forty four years after expressing support for Martin Luther King to become the first African American president, the Mighty Sparrow again has cause to sing a calypso urging Americans to elect an African American as President of the USA. Barack! Barack! The first black President to lead this mighty nation! Barack! We’ll regain worldwide respect with Obama’s vision and excellent comprehension! Excerpt from the Mighty Sparrow’s “Barack the Magnificent.”