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SIMMONS: Palins, Sharptons to share day on the Mall of democracy

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Aug. 28. Mark the date. Sarah Palin and Al Sharpton.

In Washington. At the same time.

"To God and America's ancestors go the glory," said Big Mama, the venerable moral consciousness of pre- and post-racial America.

She's speaking out because some folks, to her left, fear Aug. 28 will be the clash of the titans - a showdown over potty disparity.

"No need to be fearful," she said. "There'll be no signs that say 'whites only.'"

Big Mama probably wouldn't be so race-focused if Aug. 28 were just another day of rallies in Washington. She points out that Aug. 28, 1963, was the day when Charlton Heston stood alongside Harry Belafonte inside the Lincoln Memorial. The day they and 200,000 others had made their way to the Mall to hear Martin Luther King Jr., A. Philip Randolph, John Lewis and others speak about jobs and freedom.

It was a white and black thing, a Christian and Jew event, and the speakers' impassioned remarks that summer day were as political as they were historic. King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech, and Mr. Lewis criticized Republicans and fellow Democrats alike for not doing enough to push the civil rights agenda.

"Back then, Mr. Lewis, who is now a congressman from Georgia, headed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, what many a Southerner deemed as agitators," Big Mama said. "My, my. He sure is livin' the dream.

"All kinds of folks backed the movement," she said. "Yellow Dogs and them Boll Weevils, who went kicking and screaming because of Lyndon Johnson and John Kennedy, rest their souls."

Then she rattled off a list and let out a howl that could shake the foundation of Lincoln's monument: "Abortion rights, gay marriage, health care reform, revenue men countin' every penny, slavery reparations, equal rights for women, black man and Hispanic woman on the Supreme Court at the same time. Lord, Lord, Lord. For some members of the party of Lincoln, it's all they can stand.

"No wonder the 'tea party' folks are heading for D.C."

The conservatives are coming to partake in the rally for America's heroes, heritage and future called Restoring Honor. Mrs. Palin is a scheduled speaker at the Lincoln Memorial rally, where King et al. stood 47 years ago.

The liberals, under the banner "Reclaim the Dream," also will gather on the Mall, but at a different site. They, too, will be honoring America's heroes, heritage and future. After meeting at Dunbar High School in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol, Mr. Sharpton and company will march to the King memorial, which is scheduled for completion in 2011.

"King will have Lincoln to his left and Thomas Jefferson to his right," Big Mama said. "I've always said: Ain't no coincidences. The Lord always has a plan."

The media will, too. Who has the highest turnout? Any arrests or flare-ups? Are there white supporters who want to "Reclaim the Dream?" Any black supporters "Restoring Honor?"

"Y'all crawl over each other to paint a picture," Big Mama said. "What's sad is both groups of folks are sending the same message. They're just so busy talking they can't hear each other."

Everyone doesn't see eye to eye with Big Mama. Like the liberals and conservatives they cover as journalists, the media draw a fine politically correct line, she said.

"On one side stand reporters who think liberal politics sound the death knell for Joe the Plumber; on the other are reporters who think conservatives did in Joe Sixpack," said Big Mama. "Both Joes were trying to make ends meet."

"God plays a mighty role in the lives of the crowd that follows the Palin woman and that Al Sharpton," she said. "Christians, the both of 'em, and preachers, too. They like nothin' more than preachin' to the choir. Wonder whose pews they perch in come Sunday after the rallies. Wasn't it Dr. King who said 11 o'clock Sunday mornings is the most segregated hour in America?"

Big Mama said she hopes there are no nasty scenes on the "great Mall of democracy" on Aug. 28.

"Remember Jim Crow's kin turned hoses and dogs on blacks, Jews, Catholics, anybody who wasn't just like them," she said. "Every one of them folks on the Mall needs to remember that we can't let nobody turn America around."

  • Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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About the Author
Deborah Simmons

Deborah Simmons

Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...

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