Ever wonder what Black Americans celebrated before Juneteenth? Our quasi-national holiday was “Emancipation Day,” celebrated on January 1, the anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. My recent article on Emancipation Day celebrations in Black California. @ucpress Journal of Calif History.
I have been writing about from where would come the New Way of American progressivism. Well, I think to everyone’s surprise she’s here and awakened. She landed on Plymouth Rock with a pair of Big Girl sized stiletto heels or what more precisely was on the White House lawn and in cities and capitals world-wide. Never in our nation’s (or world’s ) history has there ever been such a protest movement against a newly inaugurated President of the United States. In 1820 the Adam’s Boys ran out of Washington, DC and in 1973 Nixon’s inaugural motorcade car was bottled but never before has a movement, and a movement of women rocked an inauguration as it did on January 21, 2017. To my knowledge no banana republic puppet government has ever seen this level of national and global political defiance. And yet here we are.
There comes a time when social forces culminate in an explosion of sentiment so astounding that it brings forward a new epoch in the form of historical consciousness. Ben Franklin’s revolutionary protestation “Join or Die” was a progressive idea heard throughout the American colonies and awakened a revolutionary consciousness. Today, women are awakened to their own political power and men to that realization. Now, I think our Sister’s have everyone’s attention. Women are awakened to a belief that they were not asleep during the 2016 election but simply in respite. What we also learned on Saturday that progressive ideas matter and they seemingly matter most of all to women! (Black Lives Matter was founded by Sisters!) This new wave of progressive sentiment was unleashed by millions of women and their male allies. Women of all races, creeds, religions, origins and orientations made it known that the liberation of women from oppressive and Neanderthalish dictums should have been a thing of a distant past.
Donald Trump’s inauguration met progressivism head on Saturday and progressivism won. But this is only the beginning. This is merely the first salvo in what should must become a sustained political movement. Power is never relinquished without a fight. Fighting is what Americans do. Now is the time for Progressives to put on the gloves and MMA style this country into the 21st century. We must have a progressive populist movement forged to keep America moving in a direction that affirms and sustains modern progressive ideas. For me Progressive Populism affirms the idea that America is a nation founded on the backs of African slaves and immigrants. The complete and absolute respect for people of First Nations, the right to a clean environment, a free and good education, health care as a right and not a luxury. That Black Lives Matter. It would affirm that women have the right to make their own health care decisions about their bodies. Progressive populism stands for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian crisis, Veterans first, decent human habitation and a respect for the elderly and poor. That every American deserves to earn a living wage. Open access in technology. That racism has no place in a modern American nation. Progressive populism affirms the right of people to identify with religions and the culture of their choice while remaining firmly American. And above all a Constitutional amendment that places people before corporations.
Trump’s inauguration (left) and Obama’s in 2009.
But this cannot happen without some growing pains. Progressive Populism means leaving the politics of the few for the politics of the many. A21st progressivism be respectful but acknowledge to old political leaders that now is the time for new leadership and not a return to more of the same. It’s time to move forward and onward. A return to a focus on making life better for people and that must being in locally. Local communities is where real politics begins and ends. Political battles must be waged at the local level and spring upward to the City, County, State and National levels. The time for political action is now!