By Hazel Trice Edney
Rev. Al Sharpton has announced a mass march during the Martin Luther King Holiday weekend in January – less than a week before the Trump inauguration, Jan. 20.
Sharpton is being backed by six other organizational heads who represent the nation’s largest civil rights organizations: Marc Morial of the National Urban League; Melanie Campbell of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation; Wade Henderson of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; Cornell William Brooks of the NAACP; Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund; and Kristin Clark of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
“We are not being alarmists, we are being realists about the record of the incoming president-elect and what he has said. If people are saying we’re not giving him a chance, we are willing to give him a chance. The problem is we are listening to what he has said,” Sharpton said.
Morial said the group will maintain its posture of readiness to deal with issues and adverse appointments as they come from Trump.
“We are unified today and prepared to move forward. And we do this today in the spirit of understanding that this close election certainly yielded a new president-elect,” Morial said, but that president-elect did not win a majority of the popular vote nor did he win a mandate to act against civil rights.
Brooks said the NAACP is ready to employ every legal strategy necessary to fight against attacks.
He noted how racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and misogyny became routine during the campaign. “When we look at the positions Mr. Trump took as a candidate, there is nothing to suggest that he is not fully committed to those positions as president. And his appointments indicate that he is doubling down on his campaign promises.”
Morial declined to say whether the civil rights groups – which met several times with President Obama – would seek a meeting with President Trump, once he is in office. But outside of meeting face to face, Brooks listed grass roots mobilization, legislative advocacy as well as legal redress as among the strategies that could be used to fight against roll backs of civil rights. “And I think we can certainly expect the nation’s leading civil rights organizations to move in a concerted, coordinated and united fashion.”
Sharpton concluded, “In terms of his movement to the right and the flavor of White nationalism, we may have lost an election, but we have not lost our minds nor have we lost our ability to mobilize … We are going to keep street heat up.”