John R. Lewis was an American statesman and civil rights leader who served in the U.S. House of Representatives for Georgia’s 5th congressional district from Jan. 3, 1987, until his death July …
John R. Lewis was an American statesman and civil rights leader who served in the U.S. House of Representatives for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District from Jan. 3, 1987, until his death July 17, 2020. He was one of the major organizers of the 1963 March on Washington and fulfilled many crucial roles in the civil rights movement and its actions to end legalized racial segregation in the United States.
During his 33 years in the House, his district representing most of Atlanta, he was Chief Deputy Whip for the Democratic Party from 2003. Lewis received many honorary degrees and awards — including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
What caught my eye recently was the story in the Port Townsend Leader, Aug. 22, headlined “Street art gets another look by Port Townsend council.”
And sure enough, racism raised its ugly head.
The news report stated: “The Port Townsend City Council gave its initial OK to a proposed ordinance that would set out a process for permitting art on city streets, sidewalks, and crosswalks. The ordinance, city officials said, was needed following the council’s approval of the temporary ‘Black Lives Matter’ mural that was painted on Water Street as part of this year’s Juneteenth Freedom March.”
“I respectfully request that the Port Townsend city council allow and approve a ‘Back the Blue Law Enforcement’ Mural and a ‘Make America Great Again’ Mural be permanently painted on Water street between city hall and Pope marine skating park,” said one audience member.
Another wrote: “Accordingly, to ensure freedom of expression on equal terms on city streets, on behalf of myself and others I request permission to use a block length of Water Street to display in large letters the message: ‘We Don’t Support Black Lives Matter Group.’ Please let me know the procedure for moving forward with this proposal and whether the city will pay for the paint as it did for the ‘Black Lives Matter’ mural.”
Another wrote: “Since the Black Lives Matter organization (a political organization) has gotten permission to have their name painted on a Port Townsend street, I expect the same consideration for other organizations and parties. Please provide me permission for a ‘Trump 2020’ sign with information on how to get this done.”
I’d like to point out that “Black Lives Matter” is NOT a “political organization,” and the Trump name with its widespread racism is the last thing I want associated with my home of 91 years.
I’m more interested, where Trump is concerned, that history records how back in 1989 Donald Trump was promoting the death of five black male children for a crime of which they were subsequently proven innocent with DNA evidence. I don’t believe he yet has detracted or otherwise apologized for his full-page death-penalty demands in New York City. The oldest of the Blacks was 16, the youngest 14. (See “Central Park Five.”)
And let’s make some good and necessary noise.
If the law leaves the door ajar in the wrong places, fix it.
According to the news story by Brian Kelly, under the new proposed rules, the city manager could approve street paintings, intersection murals, and community-designated crosswalks after consultation with the city’s arts commission. The rules note that the city “does not intend public art to be a ‘public forum’ and therefore reserves the right to control the art displayed on all city property.”
The proposed ordinance also bans murals that contain violent images; sexually graphic images; nudity; religious symbols or desecration of such images; hatred of persons or groups of people; support for or opposition to a candidate or initiative on the ballot; as well as imagery that may be inappropriate to maintain in or upon public property.“
"Make America Great Again" (often abbreviated as MAGA) is a campaign slogan used in American politics that was popularized by Donald Trump in his 2016 presidential campaign. Ronald Reagan used the similar slogan "Let's make America great again" in his successful 1980 presidential campaign.