It would be useless and therefore cruel to provoke the further effusion of blood, and I have arranged to meet with General Grant with a view to surrender.
Thus Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in the village of Appomattox Court House,Virginia on 09 April 1865, 157 years ago.
On 12-13 April 1861, in Charleston Harbor, the attack on Fort Sumter marked the beginning of the Civil War. It lasted four years, and more than 620,000 Americans died. The Civil War released 3.9 million people from slavery but not from discrimination.
Fast forward 74 years after Lee’s surrender.
Marian Anderson (1897-1993) was one of the great voices of the 20th century. Her rich, vibrant contralto and extensive vocal range captivated audiences worldwide while the grace and dignity she displayed as an artist and as a citizen of the world made her a symbolic figure in one of the most important events in the struggle for civil rights.
On 09 April 1939, Anderson sang at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The Daughters of the American Revolution had blocked the Black singer from performing at Constitution Hall.
According to Anderson biographer Allan Keiler, [Anderson] was invited to sing in Washington by Howard University as part of its concert series. And because of Anderson’s international reputation, the university needed to find a place large enough to accommodate the crowds. Constitution Hall was such a place, but the Daughters of the American Revolution owned the hall.
“They refused to allow her use of the hall,” Keiler says, “because she was black and because there was a white-artist-only clause printed in every contract issued by the DAR.”
Like the nation’s capital, Constitution Hall was segregated then.
Fast forward 29 years after Anderson’s concert.
On 09 April 1968, public and private funeral services were held for Martin Luther King Jr. in Atlanta. Six months prior, President Lyndon Johnson had successfully nominated Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court.
Fast forward 54 years after MLK’s funeral.
There would have been resonance if the Senate had voted to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court today, instead of 07 April 2022.
And yet the discrimination, the disrespect remains.
“Senate leaders decided the confirmation of the first Black woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court deserved full, formal proceedings,” Steve Benen wrote for MSNBC. Three Republicans joined Democrats to confirm Judge Jackson, 53-47.
The 3 Republicans who voted for KBJ were from Utah, Alaska, and Maine.
These 3 states have virtually no black people in them.
Republican Senators from states with a high black population voted against KBJ.
That’s how little respect they have for black voters.
— Optimist Prime -💉💉💉 (Us/We) (@EthanObama) April 7, 2022
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) showed up for the vote in clothing too casual to enter the Senate floor. They weren’t dressed for work. Disrespect.
Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jim Inhofe voted From the Republican cloakroom because they weren't wearing ties as is required by Senate rules on the floor.
Graham was in a quarter zip and a blazer. He stuck out his thumb down on the final KBJ vote and receded back into the Cloakroom
— Ali Zaslav (@alizaslav) April 7, 2022
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was also almost a half-hour late, causing his peers to wait for him to deign to appear. More disrespect.
Republican Sen Rand Paul is the only senator who has not voted in the final confirmation vote for KBJ.
The chamber is waiting for him to arrive before gaveling.
— Ali Zaslav (@alizaslav) April 7, 2022
As applause echoed from the marbled walls, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader, turned his back and slowly walked out, as did most of the few Republicans remaining on the floor, leaving half of the chamber empty as the other half celebrated in a stark reflection of the partisan divide.
Only one Republican Senator stayed to applaud after Judge Jackson was confirmed. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT).
Some Republicans walk out during the applause. Mitt Romney stays and continues to clap pic.twitter.com/b9z8huQQIY
— Acyn (@Acyn) April 7, 2022
Disrespect piled onto disrespect.
There is one major difference between 1865 and 2022: global digital connectivity.
We can watch Anderson’s 1939 concert on YouTube.
This technology is powerful. It can be transformative, if we choose.