Ask yourself: Have you ever seen a photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sitting on a panel? On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act we should ask ourselves: Has activism been replaced by “paneling” and hot air?
At every annual convention.Â At every luncheon.Â At every conference. There is the panel discussion as the centerpiece of the “agenda.”Â And for the most part, these sessions repeat already known information and no calls to action.
Where the centerpiece of the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s was results based physical activities such as marches, boycotts and civil disobedience, the centerpiece now appears to be lots and lots of talking.
The activities of five decades ago yielded big results — like the Civil Rights Act — few of those big results and political victories can be seen today.Â And the problems, for the African American community in particular, are getting larger.Â
Can panels create change and get results at a time when the wealth gap between black and white is the worst in 40 years and the dropout and incarceration rates remain at crisis levels?Â Can marches get the same results they did in the 1960s as a more money and tech driven political landscape drives agendas?
Were it not for Rev. William Barber’s Moral Mondays there would be no consistent activism at all.Â But even with those events one has to ask: Are the marches yielding tangible results?Â It’s likely Dr. King didn’t have time for panels.Â The actions Dr. King took got results and won victories.Â Like the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.