Tuesday, November 04, 2008

What is it like tonight for an old Civil Rights actvist from the 1960s?

What's it like for me, as an old Civil rights Activist from the 1960s to experience this moment, November 4, 2008, as we await the results of this election?

It is almost unbelievable. I broke the color line repeatedly as a young white teen-ager riding buses, trains and street cars. I was in the U. S. Army as a Private when in 1948 for the first time barracks were integrated. In Central Kentucky in the late 60s, I took part in civil rights demonstrations, as well as peace demonstrations. I resigned my commission as a Reserve Navy Officer, and protested the war by withholding the telephone war tax surcharge. I went to Atlanta for the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King. I was in the crowd when Jackie and Robert Kennedy passed by about 15 feet away to go to the church where Rev. King preached. I walked across Atlanta singing “We Shall Overcome...” with thousands of mourners to Morehouse College.

Back in Lexington I attended rallies. I organized a Community Memorial Service for Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. After the Kerner Report, emphasizing that we still lived in racially divided societies, I organized the first truly interfaith group in Lexington, composed of ministers and laity of both Protestant, Catholic and Hebrew faith traditions. Rabbi Leffler from Temple Adath Israel, Rev. Jim Bennettt from Faith Lutheran, and Ref. John Bennett (not related) of Central Christian Church were leaders. We met for several years, with banquets and shared work projects. In 1969, when no one was organizing a memorial for the anniversary of Martin Luther King, I organized a memorial service at the Baptist Church on Maxwell, which was well attended.

Starting a family and a private practice, I became less active socially in Civil Rights, but remained a spokesperson via Letters to the Editor and other interfaith endeavors. Finally in 1989, we started the Spiritual Growth Network of Kentucky, which has been my spiritual home for the last 20 years.

I am deeply moved and even tearful at times at the enormous significance of the candidacy of Barack Obama. We need change, and we need someone who can draw us together. IMO, he has the intelligence, the character, the temperament, the leadership to bring a different focus to our nation. I am enormously proud to have been a small part of this movement.

That we have come so far is practically unbelievable. The courage, leadership, eloquence and charisma of Barack Obama is remarkable. Win or Lose tonight, we are all winners. It will no longer be said that a Black man or a woman cannot become President. I am proud of my country and my Democratic party tonight Wow. Tonight is one I never dreamed I would see.

Anyway it goes tonignt I feel as if a part of my life's aim has been fulfilled. I am ready to go, LOrd, whenever you call.

Paschal Bernard Baute,
November 4, 2008
5 p.m.

Monday, November 03, 2008

An exciting time

This is an exciting time for me to be an American.
It appears as if we are about the elect the first African-American person
to be the President of the United States of America.

In my jail program this morning I asked the 4 Blacks present (with four Whites)
to share with us what having Obama in this position meant to them.

Several things were interesting about their responses. The older ones who had lived through the Black White divisions in our society appreciated it more. The younger Blacks had not grown up with the same bias and prejudice. Obama was important but not as urgent a signal of change as it was to those born earlier and had directly experienced prejudice.

For me, it is enormously significant. Maybe tomorrow is the last battle of the long and tragic Civil War our country experience. I am a student of history, in particular of our Civil War, our Civil Rights national pilgrimage. I am very proud of my country today.

This moment is not just due to the changes in tolerance in our society. It is a tribute also to the vision and courage and leadership of this unusual man, Barack Obama. He believed we were ready for a change, and he risked everything betting on us, yes, even his life.

I am proud of him, and the many who saw his leadership potential, particularly for those who have crossed party lines to endorse him, Colin Powell, an Eisenhower, a Nixon, a Goldwater, and a Reagan. No matter what happens tomorrow, this is a transforming moment for our young country, the first int the world to be built upon human rights. If he succeeds in winning tomorrow the world is going to be excited about our country, once more.

November 3, 2008