Roger Simon: King - Too far, too fast, just right
Whites feared massive violence. The government had mobilized 6,000 police officers, 2,000 National Guardsmen and 4,000 soldiers to await the marchers.
Much of white America failed to see black people at all. Black people, for the most part, were, as Ralph Ellison had termed them, "invisible." They were servants and laborers. They did not sit at the desk next to white people at work or live on the same block. Most black children did not go to school with white children. White people knew that black people existed, but they did not really see them.
Another panelist said many Americans were "afraid of the motives" of the march's organizers and feared that communists had infiltrated the movement. (After the march, an FBI memo to J. Edgar Hoover said King was now "the most dangerous Negro of the future in this Nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro and national security.")
"I don't agree," King said calmly. "The Negro has been extremely patient for our God-given rights. We are at the bottom of the economic ladder. We are the victims of segregation." The march, King said, would "help not only the Negro cause but the rest of the nation."
Wilkins replied: "It is incumbent on the Negro population to keep asking for more. They have been deprived so long. We cannot (reduce) the pressure for the end of evil."
Roger Simon is Politico's chief political columnist. His new e-book is "Reckoning: Campaign 2012 and the Fight for the Soul of America."
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