Report from a participating walker in the MLK King March in Seattle earlier today, Jan 19, 2009
It was a strange weather day in the Emerald City today. Biting cold with swirling fog, but bright sunshine broke through the mist at many spots. There was black ice in many spots, as approximately 4 or 5,000 souls descended on Garfield High School in Seattle for an MLK Day Birthday Remembrance celebration and 3 mile walk to the downtown Federal building.
A number of the workshops were far too radical for my tastes. Booths included the Federal Socialist Freedom Party and a cluster of other extreme leftist factions. But I attended a workshop on the current hostilities in Gaza, given by a young Palestinian female and a Jewish professor from Seattle, both of whom are involved in the Anti-Zionist movement in Palestine. Some recommended websites include www.voicesofpalestine.org, jewishvoteforpeace.org, and www.palestineinformation.org.
A brief history of the Zionist movement in Palestine since 1948 was discussed, as well as the lead up to the current conflict in Gaza between Hamas and Israel. There are a number of Palestine peace organizations here in Seattle and in the Holy Land.
I mentioned to the group that a number of the Arab governments in the Holy Land are split apart from their own people; that is to say that a number of governments including Jordan, Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and a few others have pro-American governments but the people in the street are increasingly hostile towards Israel and America. We all know that Israel is the single greatest recipient of foreign aide, that a very large part of it is sophisticated weaponry, and that we ask little or no accountability (as we do with almost all other nations) in how our aide is spent by Israel. Furthermore, we dole out the money in huge blocks, NOT over time in any one calendar year, which is a large advantage for Israel.
I also mentioned that we can gauge America's view towards Palestine by the hostile reception President Carter received when he wrote PEACE NOT APARTHEID a year or two ago. He was vilified by supporters of Israel and the various lobbies in America, most importantly AIPC.
The workshop lasted an hour and a half. Then everyone gathered outside for the march downtown. It was an amazing collection of groups, some celebrating King, many, many recognizing the inauguration event tomorrow, and others trying to sell t-shits and buttons for their organizations. I wore my old Navy foul-weather jacket and my OBAMA-BIDEN hat with two buttons reading VETERANS FOR OBAMA. There were twenty police motorcycle escorts before and after the parade.
Moving from the predominantly black section of Seattle up around 23rd and Jackson Avenue, down Yesler Way to the Federal building downtown, there was an incredible feeling of optimism and support in the crowd. MANY onlookers waved and shouted their approval. Many parents with strollers and/or young children walked with us. I estimate perhaps 3/5 of the marchers were non-white but I was not counting heads to know for sure.
Since this was Seattle, the anti-war factions were out in droves, as were Gay and Lesbian support groups. Organized labor supporting Obama were strong in representation, as were a sizeable number of mixed-race couples. (I am Caucasian, married to a Filipino and it's always a pleasure seeing this social progress being made).
I took a picture of a little boy holding a sign that read I HAVE A DREAM. It was Rove and Bush behind bars. This caused me to laugh a little, but I considered it somewhat exploitative of the child, who was only six or seven years ago.
The crowd was, again, joyous. It was a great day in Seattle, and a wonderful day for America.
I cannot WAIT for tomorrow morning.
CHANGE HAS COME TO AMERICA