- The Washington Times - Friday, December 15, 2000

Well, Washingtonians, here we are again, preparing for all sorts of ceremonial must-haves to inaugurate our new president and vice president. We've been here and done that so many times.

Maybe someone will propose we start rotating the inauguration. Perhaps establishing some kind of lottery, or have state capitals lobby for the honor. You know, the same way they lobby for the Olympics.

These suggestions should be taken very seriously because as intense as the postelection season is, I'm not sure Washingtonians even want to be around for what's in store come inauguration time.

Lots of ordinary folks plan to be here; Mr. Bush's and Mr. Cheney's close friends and family plan to be here, and dignitaries from around the globe plan to be here, too.

Such big to-dos always draw the high, the mighty and everyone in between, and when such affairs are held in the nation's capital, Washingtonians know to prepare for the expected and the unexpected.

But as I said, January 2001 will be different. That's because the Rev. Jesse Jackson, president and founder of the Rainbow/Push Coalition, is pitching plans, too.

Mr. Jackson has called for "massive nonviolent demonstrations" to be held in January. Not on Inauguration Day, mind you, but one month from today on the anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birth.

For those of you out of the loop that would be Jan. 15, a national holiday. Only two other Americans are so honored, and I'm certain I do not have to name them.

In case your eyes glossed over my earlier words allow me to repeat: Mr. Jackson has called for "massive nonviolent demonstrations." That's plural.

Mr. Jackson has called for these demonstrations to be held nationwide as part of his promised "civil rights explosion." Mr. Jackson is reacting in part to his pal Al Gore's loss in the race for the White House. Mr. Jackson wants the demonstrations to coincide with King's birthday and before Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney are sworn into office.

Can you imagine the turnout?

This is a Jesse Jackson event, and Jesse Jackson is old-school.

He is way too smart to call a million men to the National Mall or a million women to New York.

He is way too political to even propose that men and women venture off in separate ways, or that the demonstrations are a black thing or any singular thing.

Jesse Jackson swung the doors wide open.

Again, imagine the turnout.

In the name of civil rights and voting rights.

Human rights and abortion rights.

Statehood rights and the D.C. delegate's congressional rights.

Workers' rights, women's rights and gay rights.

And don't leave out the death penalty and racial profiling.

They will join hands in Atlanta, Chicago, Birmingham, Memphis, Philly and, most importantly, the District, in "honor" of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Mr. Jackson's proposed "nonviolent demonstrations" mean there will be no rest for the weary federal and local law-enforcement authorities who must marshal in great numbers on King's birthday and again for the Inaugural festivities.

Still, Mr. Jackson isn't the only one planning a massive protest. A group in New York called International Action Center is coordinating a protest, too. That group plans to "fill the streets of Washington with thousands of people."

Oh joy.

My head is dizzy.

I often cut class to hang out with Marion Barry and others in the "movement" as a teen-ager. I cried like a baby when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and was scared as all get out when white National Guardsmen stalked my neighborhood as if I had shot him myself outside the Lorraine Motel. I stood among the masses and alongside Adrienne T. Washington, another columnist for The Washington Times, and marched, wrote letters and pleaded with the powers that be that Martin Luther King Jr. deserved a national holiday. I did much of the same to help end Apartheid rule in South Africa.

Next month, when the masses hit my town I hope to be in someone else's. I hope by then to have convinced my husband, Rick, that we deserve a few days off in the peaceful Caribbean instead of the clamoring streets of Washington.

E-mail simmon@twtmail.com.

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