thumping the tub
Tub-Thumper - 1. A speaker or preacher who for emphasis thumps the pulpit; a violent or declamatory preacher or orator; a ranter. (from This blog will be a combination of reasoned posting somedays and an occasional rant.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Some afterthoughts on the 'Make Poverty History' demonstrations in the summer. Malcolm X had this to say about the march where Martin Luther King made the 'I have a dream' speech. Most of it applies to the make poverty history stuff....

"the negroes were out there in the streets. They were talking about how they were going to march on Washington, march on the senate, march on the Whitehouse, march on the congress and tie it up - bring it to a halt and not let the government proceed. They even said they were going out to the airport to lay down on the runway and not let any airplanes land. I'm telling you what they said - that was revolution, that was revolution, that was the black revolution. It was the grassroots out there in the street; it scared the white man to death; scared the white power structure in Washington DC to death - I was there. When they found out that this black steamroller was going to come down on the capital they called in these national negro leaders that you respect and told them call it off. Kennedy said 'look you all are letting this thing go too far' and old Tom said 'Boss I can't stop it I because I didn't start it.'

I'm telling you what they said. They said 'I'm not even in it much less at the head of it.' They said 'these negroes are doing things on their own; they're running ahead of us.' And that old, shrewd fox, he said 'if you all aren't in it I'll put you in it. I'll put you at the head of it, I'll endorse it, I'll welcome it, I'll help it, I’ll join it.'

"This is what they did with the march on Washington, they joined it, became part of it, took it over. And as they took it over it lost its militancy. It ceased to be angry, it ceased to be hot, it ceased to be uncompromising. Why, it even ceased to be a march - it became a picnic, a circus, nothing but a circus - with clowns and all.

No, it was a sell-out. It was a takeover. They controlled it so tight the told those negroes what time to hit town, where to stop, what signs to carry , what songs to sing, what speech they could make, what speech they couldn't make and then told them to get out of town by sundown.
posted by michael the tubthumper @ 8:24 pm  
  • At 4:47 am, Blogger Keir said…

    Interesting, but I think there's a crucial difference. The marchers in DC were--in many ways--marching for their lives, unlike the overwhelming majority of the West's Make Poverty History campaigners. Yes, the later deification of King turned the whole thing into a picnic for suburban grade schools like me, growing up thinking those problems were "solved". But look what followed the march in Washington--in later years King took a more radical, anti-imperial stance. He raised the stakes. I would guess that, despite the, uh, "picnicization" of the civil rights movement in the States, it has achieved more than we should expect from Bono and Co.

  • At 6:50 pm, Blogger Nölff said…

    noticing the comment above.
    You don't hear much about King's later years.

  • At 7:26 pm, Blogger michael the tubthumper said…

    you're both right. i suppose the bit i am trying to draw attention to is "This is what they did with the march on Washington, they joined it, became part of it, took it over."

    2 of the ministers from blairs government marched that day knowing full well that their policies r part of the problem. one person joked "what banner are they going to carry - one with 'down with me and everything i stand for' on it?"

    by placing geldof and bono and the pop stars at the front of it all it turned the thing into a party. most of the media coverage was about which band was best on the day and not about the issue.

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Name: michael the tubthumper
Home: Glasgow, Scotland
About Me: Tub-Thumper - 1. A speaker or preacher who for emphasis thumps the pulpit; a violent or declamatory preacher or orator; a ranter. This blog will be a combination of reasoned posting somedays and an occasional rant. 28 years old, I write and research for a couple of websites and also do my own stuff.
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I have made a few short movies. Here are links to free downloads for them all in the order that I made them (as far as I can remember). Please feel free to use, distribute, disagree with, shout at etc etc

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