by Asa Gordon
Executive Director, Douglass Institute of Government
Chair, DC Statehood Green Party Electoral College Taskforce
Jonathan Yardley’s book review “The Lost motive behind the march” (The Washington Post, Sunday, August 25, 2013, B8) of ‘The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights ‘ by William P. Jones specifies a lost motive behind the March to remedy voter disfranchisement ignored in recent 50th Anniversary celebrations of the March on Washington. Yardley exposes Jones revelation that:
“Initially the march’s organizers demanded ‘federal jobs creation, raising the minimum wage, a Fair Employment Practice law, and support for [President John F.] Kennedy’s civil rights bill,’ demands that ‘expanded as new groups joined.’ Jones writes: ‘They included .. the right to vote .. enforce the Fourteenth Amendment by reducing congressional representation from states in which citizens were disfranchised’.”
For over a decade now and still pending in Federal Court (see Gordon et. al v Clerk of the House of Representatives, http://www.electors.us), the DC Statehood Green Party Electoral College Task Force (DCSGP-ECTF) Civil Actions to Democratize the Electoral College has honored this Voting Rights legacy of the march – a motive of the march forgotten by present day Civil Rights leaders, liberals and progressives, a motive of the march deliberately ignored by the mainstream media. See Green press releases: “Greens: Enforce 14th Amendment’s ‘Right to Vote’ Provision” (http://www.gp.org/press/pr_10_18_04.html); “US Constitution Mandates Penalties for States Where Votes are Obstructed” (http://www.gp.org/press/pr_2004_12_16.html).
My analysis and case for democratizing the electoral college is featured in the Vol.17, No. 1 (Summer 2013) issue of Green Pages, the national newspaper of the Green Party of the United States. For a complete version of the article, see “Neo-Redemption Gerrymandering of the Electoral College, Suffer Loss of Representatives to Congress” (http://gp.org/greenpages-blog/?p=3368). When I presented this subject matter before the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (50th) ‘Voting Rights Act’ panel (Aug. 23, 2013), it was clear that all of the dignitaries that made up the panel, two Civil Rights icons including four Black Caucus congressional representatives, were clueless of the fact that what I was advocating was an original motive of the March on Washington. This august panel dismissed it as my own personal misguided quixotic quest in ignorance of its solid foundation in progressive voting rights history moored in the post civil war reconstruction of the constitution.
William P. Jones, author of “The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights” (W.W. Norton & Co, 2013), a history professor at the University of Wisconsin Madison, and a specialist in the histories of race and labor in the article “The Forgotten Radical History of the March on Washington” for DISSENT Spring 2013 (http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/the-forgotten-radical-history-of-the-march-on-washington) writes:
“The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which occurred fifty years ago this August 28, remains one of the most successful mobilizations ever created by the American Left.. Rather than narrowing their objectives to win support from moderates, Randolph, Hedgeman, King, and others united a broad coalition of radicals behind the slogan ‘For Jobs and Freedom.’ The official demands of the protest included .. voting rights in the South.. ‘reducing Congressional representation of states where citizens were disfranchised’.”
The Fourteenth Amendment second section voting rights remedy now solely advocated by the Green Party was also recently raised by William P. Jones in an exchange with Amy Goodman in the Democracy Now broadcast “50 Years Later, the Untold History of the March on Washington & MLK’s Most Famous Speech” (http://www.democracynow.org/2013/8/21/50_years_later_the_untold_history):
AMY GOODMAN: And voting rights —
WILLIAM P. JONES: — has been lost to many.
AMY GOODMAN: Will Jones, I mean, of course, after this march, you had — Kennedy assassinated in November, but then the Civil Rights Act was passed, the Voting Rights Act was passed. Where this fits in, especially Section 7, very quickly?
WILLIAM P. JONES: Well, a central demand of the march was to limit congressional representation in any state where citizens were deprived the right to vote.
As of to date the Green Party of the United States stands alone in the fight over voting rights to redeem this voting rights motive of the March on Washington and honor the demand of the last slave to serve in congress. Congressman George Henry White, the last former slave to serve in Congress and by 1898 the only African American in the House of Representatives challenged the House to punish southern states for disfranchising blacks by calling for a reduction in their congressional delegations. Congressman White appealed in 1899 that southern delegations to Congress ought to be limited to “the benefit of the votes that are allowed to be cast in their representation .. It is a question that this House must deal with some time, sooner or later.” That time has come. It took the nation nearly a century to enforce section one of the Fourteenth Amendment, let not let another century pass without enforcing Section Two.