by CRCDS President Dr. Marvin A. McMickle,
There is little doubt that for most African Americans, and for most persons committed to a progressive agenda for American society that the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States is proving to be a major step backward.
It is hard enough to accept the fact that the successor to our nation’s first African American president was the one person who went out of his way to question the legitimacy of Obama’s election, his American citizenship, and even his intelligence. However, the election of Donald Trump is bringing with it the appointment of Jeff Sessions of Alabama as the Attorney General of the United States. Sessions’ opposition to expanded voting rights makes it unlikely that any attempt to end voter suppression practices across the country beginning in Alabama will be ignored or rejected.
Given the likelihood that the next four years may see two or three vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court means that policies ranging from reproductive choice, to gun control, voting rights, affirmative action, worker’s rights, and immigration policy could be established that will remain in effect decades after Trump has left office. I would never have imagined that eight years after enough white Americans cast their votes to elect Barack Obama that a rally could be held in Washington, DC, a few blocks from the White House where an Alt Right group would be celebrating the election of Donald Trump with talk of white nationalism and displays of the Nazi salute. We have gone from two steps forward to at least one step back so far as this being a country that has embraced racial and religious diversity is concerned.
I have seen these shifts in progress and suppression before. In 1967 there was elation that came with the confirmation of Thurgood Marshall as the first black Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. That appointment came after a long career as the nation’s leading civil rights attorney responsible for the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision that ended segregation in public schools. That was two giant steps forward. Upon his retirement Marshall was replaced by Clarence Thomas who first benefited greatly from affirmative action and then spent the next twenty years doing everything in his power to repeal the very policies that positioned him for his appointment. That was an enormous step backward.
Despite these backward steps, I remain convinced that the words so often quoted by Martin Luther King, Jr. remain true today: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward Justice.” Despite the election of Donald Trump and all the disappointment that has come with it for more than half of the U.S. population who did not vote for him, social progress will continue in this country. In fact, after four years of a Trump administration, people may realize that our society did take a step back in more areas than they could ever have imagined. There will be two steps forward once again in the United States of America, and the journey toward a more perfect union will be resumed!”