08-16-2018  11:05 am      •     
Joseph C. Phillips
Published: 08 February 2006

Not too long ago, I wrote about the ongoing effort to build a memorial for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the mall in Washington D.C. Since that writing, quite a bit of progress has been made.


The Senate recently approved $10 million to begin groundbreaking for the memorial, the Walt Disney Co. has made a sizable donation and filmmaker George Lucas stepped to the plate with a personal check for $1 million, adding his name to the growing list of large individual donors that already includes Tommy Hilfiger and Bill and Donna Marriott.
Noticeably absent from the list of donors are names like Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey, Bob Johnson, Russell Simmons, Spike Lee, Sean Combs, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and others.


I am normally the first to support everyone's right to live life as they wish without fear of an admonition from other members of the "group." For instance, there is no earthly reason all Black folks should be required to vote for the same candidate, root for the same sports team or like the same kind of music. Still, I would be dishonest if I said the absence of so many prominent Black individuals on the role of financial supporters didn't give me (as Gwen McCrae sang), "a funky sensation." When Tommy Hilfiger and George Lucas are writing checks in an effort to establish a memorial for the Rev. King while Cosby and Winfrey stand on the sidelines and watch, something is askew.


I want to make it explicitly clear that I am not calling anyone out or questioning anyone's philanthropic spirit. The generosity of the Cosbys and Winfrey is unquestioned. Their charitable spirits have touched thousands across the country. And when all is said and done, it is their money. They worked hard for it and they are free to do with it what they please.


Yet, that funky sensation remains. Are there, in fact, causes that a person by nature of being Black (or any ethnic group for that matter) has a responsibility to support in the name of "the community"? If left up to me, all Black people in America would donate to sickle cell research, Black cultural institutions like The African American Museum and, of course, the building of the King memorial.


Yet, I find it a bit of a fascist notion that one person or group of people can decide how others should spend their money. Besides, ultimately, sickle cell, museums and the memorial are merely my personal interests — a reflection of my values and preferences rather than some moral or legal obligation to which all Black people should be bound. I may do better to seek out those that share my beliefs rather than those that share my race.


I suppose one can't have it both ways. Either we are going to embrace our individualism and the freedom to abandon the construct of race or we are going to remain in its grasp, always beholden to someone else's definition of our ethnic selves and, by extension, the collective ownership of our time and resources.


Remember that it was the Rev. King's call to move beyond race and embrace the substance of our characters that made him not simply a Black hero, but an American hero. His work uplifted all Americans and built bridges that transcended race. The Rev. King was a man all Americans should celebrate and any monument ought to rise above expectations built on artificial constructs and reflect the financial support of a cross section of Americans.


As of this writing, the foundation needs another $4 million for government matching funds to kick in. We have momentum and with the continued work of a lot of people of various races and with shared values, the King memorial will become a reality.


For more information on the King Memorial, go to www.buildthedream.org.

Joseph C. Phillips is an actor/writer based in Los Angeles.

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • Newspapers from Maine to Hawaii pushed back against President Donald Trump's attacks on "fake news"Newspapers from Maine to Hawaii pushed back against President Donald Trump's attacks on "fake news" Thursday with a coordinated series of editorials speaking up for a free and vigorous press.The Boston Globe, which set the campaign in motion by urging the unified voice, had estimated that some 350 newspapers would participate.They did across the breadth of the country.The Portland (Maine) Press-Herald said a free and independent press is the best defense against tyranny, while the Honolulu Star-Advertiser emphasized democracy's need for a free press."The true enemies of the people — and democracy — are those who try to suffocate truth by vilifying and demonizing the messenger," wrote the Des Moines Register in Iowa.In St. Louis, the Post-Dispatch called journalists "the truest of patriots." The Chicago Sun-Times said it believed most Americans know that Trump is talking nonsense.The Fayetteville Observer said it hoped Trump would stop, "but we're not holding our breath.""Rather, we hope all the president's supporters will recognize what he's doing —  manipulating reality to get what he wants," the North Carolina newspaper said.On Thursday morning, Trump again took to Twitter to denounce "fake news."He wrote: "The Boston Globe, which was sold to the the Failing New York Times for 1.3 BILLION DOLLARS (plus 800 million dollars in losses & investment), or 2.1 BILLION DOLLARS, was then sold by the Times for 1 DOLLAR. Now the Globe is in COLLUSION with other papers on free press. PROVE IT!"THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY. It is very bad for our Great Country....BUT WE ARE WINNING!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2018  That followed this tweet from the president: "THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY. It is very bad for our Great Country....BUT WE ARE WINNING!"The Morning News of Savannah, Georgia, said it was a confidant, not an enemy, to the people."Like any true friend, we don't always tell you want you want to hear," the Morning News said. "Our news team presents the happenings and issues in this community through the lens of objectivity. And like any true friend, we refuse to mislead you. Our reporters and editors strive for fairness."Some newspapers used history lessons to state their case. The Elizabethtown Advocate in Pennsylvania, for instance, compared free press in the United States to such rights promised but not delivered in the former Soviet Union.The New York Times added a pitch."If you haven't already, please subscribe to your local papers," said the Times, whose opinion section also summarized other editorials across the country."Praise them when you think they've done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We're all in this together."That last sentiment made some journalists skittish. Some newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal and the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote editorials explaining why they weren't joining the Globe's effort. The Chronicle wrote that one of its most important values is independence, and going along with the crowd went against that. Both the Chronicle and Baltimore Sun said that it plays into the hands of Trump and his supporters who think the media is out to get him.Nolan Finley, columnist and editorial page editor of The Detroit News, spoke up for the press but added a scolding. He said too many journalists are slipping opinion into their news reports, adding commentary and calling it context."Donald Trump is not responsible for the eroding trust in the media," Finley wrote. "He lacks the credibility to pull that off. The damage to our standing is self-inflicted."The Radio Television Digital News Association, which represents more than 1,200 broadcasters and web sites, is also asking its members to point out that journalists are friends and neighbors doing important work holding government accountable."I want to make sure that it is positive," said Dan Shelley, the group's executive director. "We're shooting ourselves in the foot if we make this about attacking the president or attacking his supporters."It remains unclear how much sway the effort will have. Newspaper editorial boards overwhelmingly opposed Trump's election in 2016. Polls show Republicans have grown more negative toward the news media in recent years: Pew Research Center said 85 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said in June 2017 that the news media has a negative effect on the country, up from 68 percent in 2010.
    Read More
  • The world mourns the death of Aretha Franklin who died today at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit.
    Read More
  • Omarosa viewed as "two-bit opportunist" for calling Trump a racist only after aligning herself with him 
    Read More
  • Seven ships filled with 176,000 tons of wheat have left Portland for Yemen
    Read More
  • It was a rare admission of fault for an administration that frequently skews data and overstates economic gains.
    Read More
  • PP&R activities scheduled outdoors are being moved indoors where feasible
    Read More
  • Trump tweeted a barrage of insults Tuesday morning as Manigault Newman continued promoting her White House tell-all
    Read More
  • Aretha Frankin, considered one of the greatest singers of all time, has fallen ill
    Read More
Oregon Convention Center Job Fair
Port of Seattle Tours
Calendar

Photo Gallery

Photos and slide shows of local events

Montavilla Jazzfest 2018
The Skanner Report