Letter: Challenge of making Du Bois' dream reality

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To the editor:

In "The Souls Of Black Folks," W.E.B. Du Bois wrote: "I believe in liberty for all men; the space to stretch their arms and their souls. The right to breathe, the right to vote uncursed by color." He wrote this in 1903. This quote appears in Great Barrington on a mural celebrating our native son.

The right to breathe, the right to vote uncursed by color; sadly and often tragically, black people across this country are still struggling to "breathe," struggling to vote, both literally and metaphorically; struggling to "stretch" their arms and their"'souls."

After George Floyd's tragic murder at the hands of the Minneapolis police, John Donne's poem "No Man Is An Island" kept troubling me. What I remembered was the line "any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind." Who is not diminished as a human being, as a citizen of this country, as an American, witnessing the abuse and lethal force inflicted upon our fellow citizens, our black brothers and sisters?

Nationwide protests and marches against police violence engulfed the country and landed at the doorstep of the White House. Trump used the National Guard and police to disperse a peaceful protest in Lafayette Square; tear gas, rubber bullets, and other riot control tactics were used against peaceful protesters. All for a transparently phony photo op. in front of St. John's Episcopal Church at the Ashburton House, which had been damaged by a fire during protests the night before.

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Trump. with his characteristic phony, arrogant scowl and sneer holding a Bible! Leonard Cohen warned us about "killers in high places, who say their prayers out loud." Could any grotesque display be less empathetic, less spiritual, less Christian? This was Trump's answer, his response, to Black Lives Matter protests.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, in response to Trump's violence against peaceful protesters, and in solidarity with the protesters, painted the words "Black Lives Matter" in 35-foot yellow letters along 16th street NW, where Trump would have to see it, and renamed the plaza Black Lives Matter Plaza.

I believe, have to believe, there is still hope for meaningful, peaceful change; and I hope for once when politicians proclaim, as they so often do "this is not who we are," we don't make liars of them once again.

Bob Berkel,

Stockbridge


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