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The Shadow Inauguration

By Woody Henderson

Hundreds of people gathered in the muddy fields of Stanton Park in our nation's capital on the morning of January 20 2001. They had come from so many parts of America, mostly in caravans of buses from places like Chicago, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Boston, Florida, South Carolina, Virginia and other cities and states across this country.

They had not come to witness the installation of George W Bush as the 43rd president of these United States. They had not come to witness the Inaugural parade that would take place on Pennsylvania Ave. or the ceremonies outside the Capitol building or in front of the White House. They had not come to dance at one of the many balls that were scheduled to take place that evening. They had not come to see George W. Bush installed as commander-in-chief of the world's most powerful army. In fact they had come in defiance of those things.

They had come to say to the Republican Party, we would not stand idly by while you take from us what so many had fought and died for us to have, "the right to vote, and the right for that vote to be counted."

What happened in Florida on November the 7th 2000 was much like the raping of democracy. The results of that rape were pregnant Chads. What was happening on January 20th was the birth of the child conceived by that rape, an illegitimate C-lected president. Although democracy may have been raped and the birthrights of the legitimate 43rd president of the United States will never be realize, this presidency will always be known by the votes stolen by the omission of justice for "one man one vote."

So, they stood in a steady downpour of rain not to pay homage to George W. Bush who was being sworn in that day or hear his inauguration address. They were in another part of town at a Shadow Inauguration and their numbers had swollen from hundreds to several thousand. They stood in reverence and honor of those who had asked them to come They listened to many powerful speakers as they reconfirmed their commitment to their right to vote and their responsibility to protect that vote once it had been cast.

Rev Sharpton, who gave the inaugural address, made one of the most moving speeches in recent memory. Then they marched down Maryland Ave to the Supreme Court where they formed a human chain around it symbolically saying Justice belongs to the people. Yet, I couldn't help but wonder what makes one man get up at 4 o'clock in the morning while another man lay sleeping snuggled in the warmth of his bed? What makes a mother get up, get dressed and go out into the early morning rain before the early morning light and stand in the cold and the mud and rain? It's the realization that no man is an island. It's an appreciation for what our forefathers and ancestors suffered and died for. Its that something that Micki Grant wrote about in a new play she premiered at Cannan Baptist Church during black history month last year, titled "You're Not Just Riding On A Metro Card But Somebody Else's Shoulders." As that great black news commentator, Roy Wood, use to say "Now run and tell that"

 

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