'We stand on mighty shoulders'.
He told of the sacrifices of Ida B. Wells Barnett, who used her editorial pen to decry racial lynchings in her home state of Mississippi. She moved to Chicago after threats on her life. One of the founders of the NAACP, she continued writing and fighting for equal rights for African-Americans and women until her 1931 death.
He spoke of Elijah Parish Lovejoy, who left Missouri (ahead of an angry mob) after publishing an account of a lynching in 1836. Lovejoy's press was destroyed and he crossed the river into Illinois. Three more of his presses were destroyed but Lovejoy pressed on, writing until he was killed by a pro-slavery mob. He was thirty-five years old.
"We stand on mighty shoulders," Page said, "and carry on a strong tradition."
Page said he had prepared his remarks for the Pittsburgh convention in 2001. He had planned to speak on "building a bridge to a new multiracial, multicultural century." He said he planned to advocate better communication across racial, ethnic, and gender lines and talk about how opinion writers could help.
But the Pittsburgh convention, scheduled to start on September 12, 2001, was cancelled after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Now, Page said, we as a nation, have overcome some of our prejudices but in the meantime have made room for new ones.
Profiling, he said, is practiced by all races, but not all embrace the theory of what he termed smart profiling. "Smart profiling," he said, "looks more deeply than the superficial characteristics of race and ethnicity." Conversely,
"stupid profiling can alienate entire communities when their cooperation is needed."
Stupid profiling, he said, helps terrorists who "sell the lie that America is waging war" against various ethnic and religious groups.
He noted in closing that when candidates start spinning their spin on their issues, "it is up to us to nudge them to talk about the public's issues."
Bonnie Williams is editorial page editor of the Anderson Independent-Mail in South-Carolina. E-mail Williamsbc@IndependentMail.com