Sunday, September 25, 2011

Good Crazy

Those of you who have watched or read President Obama's speech to the Congressional Black Caucus last night know that he focused his remarks on the words of Rev. Joseph Lowery back when the two of them attended an event in Selma on March 4, 2007.

In case you've never seen it - this is something you won't want to miss.

I first watched this video back in Nov. 2008 when Ta-Nehisi Coates reflected on the historic presidential election and its relationship to an embrace of good crazy.

I'm not a religious man, but I've been enthralled with that sermon since the day I saw it. I posted it on my blog four times. To the chagrin of my partner, I wandered around our house muttering, in a bad imitation of Lowery's Georgia accent, "Crazy things are happening." I woke her up at 5:30 a.m. on Election Day, woke my son, plugged my laptop into the speakers and played the sermon again while I got dressed. When I got home, I posted the clip on my blog again...

Here is where Barack Obama and the civil rights leaders of old are joined -- in a shocking, almost certifiable faith in humanity, something that subsequent generations lost. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. may have led African Americans out of segregation, and he may have cured incalculable numbers of white racists, but more than all that, he believed that the lion's share of the population of this country would not support the rights of thugs to pummel people who just wanted to cross a bridge. King believed in white people, and when I was a younger, more callow man, that belief made me suck my teeth. I saw it as weakness and cowardice, a lack of faith in his own. But it was the opposite. King's belief in white people was the ultimate show of strength: He was willing to give his life on a bet that they were no different from the people who lived next door.
(Emphasis mine)

That's the same legacy President Obama was referring to last night.

And I know at times that gets folks discouraged. I know. I listen to some of you all. I understand that. And nobody feels that burden more than I do. Because I know how much we have invested in making sure that we’re able to move this country forward. But you know, more than a lot of other folks in this country, we know about hard. The people in this room know about hard. And we don’t give in to discouragement.

Throughout our history, change has often come slowly. Progress often takes time. We take a step forward, sometimes we take two steps back. Sometimes we get two steps forward and one step back. But it’s never a straight line. It’s never easy. And I never promised easy. Easy has never been promised to us. But we’ve had faith. We have had faith. We’ve had that good kind of crazy that says, you can’t stop marching.

Even when folks are hitting you over the head, you can’t stop marching. Even when they’re turning the hoses on you, you can’t stop. Even when somebody fires you for speaking out, you can’t stop. Even when it looks like there’s no way, you find a way -- you can’t stop. Through the mud and the muck and the driving rain, we don’t stop. Because we know the rightness of our cause -- widening the circle of opportunity, standing up for everybody’s opportunities, increasing each other’s prosperity. We know our cause is just. It’s a righteous cause.

So in the face of troopers and teargas, folks stood unafraid. Led somebody like John Lewis to wake up after getting beaten within an inch of his life on Sunday -- he wakes up on Monday: We’re going to go march.

Dr. King once said: “Before we reach the majestic shores of the Promised Land, there is a frustrating and bewildering wilderness ahead. We must still face prodigious hilltops of opposition and gigantic mountains of resistance. But with patient and firm determination we will press on.”

And then he ended with this:

Tell me that man doesn't know how to fight! He's got some good crazy goin' on.


  1. Thanks, smartypants! I got this link through theobamadiary.

  2. President Obama threw down the gauntlet to not only the CBC last night, but ALL AMERICANS, BLACK, WHITE,HISPANIC, ASIAN, NATIVE AMERICANS,etc.

    While I am really disappointed in the behaviors of the CBC, they are not the real enemy, meerely a symptom of what happens when we become lackadasical and give up our power.

    Coporate greed, racism, and fea-mongering are the enemies.

  3. Its always been fun to watch how much Obama was enjoying himself during Rev. Lowery's remarks. But last night is the first time I've ever heard him refer to them.

  4. Ms. Pants

    I must've played those last minutes from his speech at LEAST five times over and over. 'Bout, since you've posted it here (THANK YOU) to do it some more, too.

    As you've said...TELL ME he's not patriotic. TELL ME he doesn't get it (I just want to flay the pundits who say: "where has this Obama been?"), "TELL ME that man doesn't know how to fight"!

    It just resonates in your CORE.

    And, I believe he's jusssst startin' to warm up.

  5. Thank you, smartypants for posting this video of Rev. Lowey's speech.
    I thought President Obama's speech before the CBC was pitch perfect.