Sunday, November 9, 2008

Nov. 9th edition of Forward Forum

By: John Quinlan

This is John Quinlan, host of Forward Forum, for co-host Harry Waisbren and producer Stephanie Woods.  As the world celebrates the election of our new president, it's time to reflect on a sobering, yet empowering, basic truth:  Our Real Work Begins Now.  

Join us this Sunday, November 9th, from 7-9pm Central Time (WTDY 1670 am and streaming live at on Forward Forum for a wide-ranging panel discussion as we revel in this history-making victory.  At the same time, we'll be reminded of the need to not only support the new president, but to continually remind him of the American people's longing for positive social justice change, as a means of holding him and the new Congress accountable.  In the face of a still all-too-powerful extreme right wing political and media establishment, the task will be daunting.  However, unlike many past campaigns, this one was grounded in a movement that managed to use new media and other interactive tools to mobilize millions of people.  The campaign has ended, but the possibilities inherent to continuing to energize the people behind the movement for positive social change is now about to be realized.

Our full panel is still being assembled as of press time, but will include many of this community's leaders who have worked toward this day.  And we hope to involve you as well--please call us at 321-1670 to join in on our conversation.  (See on Sunday for a further update.)

And on the eve of Veteran's Day, we'll be placing a special emphasis in our 8 pm hour on the ongoing cause of peace.  Guests include Vietnam Vet and activist Will Williams and other representatives of the Madison Area Peace Coalition.

Last week, Joanne Bland, a veteran of the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March, and a frequent visitor to Madison, reminded our audience that "we've come so far, but we still have so far to go."  She and so many others in this country have persevered at times when there was no reason to believe that the forces of prejudice and greed would not win out.  The change that has resulted in the election of the nation's first African-American president took decades to accomplish--though thankfully within the lifetimes of so many who thought they would never live to see the day when it became so.  Ms. Bland was cautious, but joy-filled, on the eve of electoral victory.  But, thinking back to the heady days around the 1965 passage of the Voter's Rights Act, she also reminded us that it's in such a victory that our real work begins, that the struggle for civil rights and social justice is and always will be an ongoing one.

In a week that was bittersweet for many of us in the LGBT communities, with apparent defeats for gay rights in California and several other states, I take solace in the knowledge, derived from the experience of my African-American brothers and sisters, that with perseverance can come victory.  It's so clear to me that the reasons for this week's gay rights defeats were grounded in age-old misconceptions and fears exploited on behalf of a larger far right wing agenda.  That makes them something can be overcome.  Like other movements before us, we've come so far, but we still have a distance to travel.... and this is an issue we'll be revisiting repeatedly in weeks to come.

Congratulations to all of our many listeners whose hard work contributed to this week's victories, as well as those resolving to refuse to let the week's defeats stand.  As we move into this new era, take a moment to contemplate the words of our new president last April 4th in invoking the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King's inclusive vision of social and economic justice.  Speaking in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on the 40th anniversary of the death of Dr. King, Barack Obama said:

Part of the problem is that for a long time, we’ve had a politics that’s been too small for the scale of the challenges we face. This is something I spoke about a few weeks ago in a speech I gave in Philadelphia. And what I said was that instead of having a politics that lives up to Dr. King’s call for unity, we’ve had a politics that’s used race to drive us apart, when all this does is feed the forces of division and distraction, and stop us from solving our problems.

That is why the great need of this hour is much the same as it was when Dr. King delivered his sermon in Memphis. We have to recognize that while we each have a different past, we all share the same hopes for the future – that we’ll be able to find a job that pays a decent wage, that there will be affordable health care when we get sick, that we’ll be able to send our kids to college, and that after a lifetime of hard work, we’ll be able to retire with security.

They’re common hopes, modest dreams. And they’re at the heart of the struggle for freedom, dignity, and humanity that Dr. King began, and that it is our task to complete. You know, Dr. King once said that the arc of the moral universe is long, but that it bends toward justice. But what he also knew was that it doesn’t bend on its own. It bends because each of us puts our hands on that arc and bends it in the direction of justice.

So on this day – of all days – let’s each do our part to bend that arc. Let’s bend that arc toward justice. Let’s bend that arc toward opportunity.

Let’s bend that arc toward prosperity for all. And if we can do that and march together – as one nation, and one people – then we won’t just be keeping faith with what Dr. King lived and died for, we’ll be making real the words of Amos that he invoked so often, and “let justice roll down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Please join us this week and in week's to come as we continue to draw inspiration from those who have gone before us, while growing in the realization of the collective power of our own potential.

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