(CNSNews.com)- Liberal Democrats in New York City have renamed Black History Month to reflect the anti-war sentiments expressed by protest groups and political leaders such as presidential candidate Al Sharpton.
The effort began immediately after the Feb. 6 address by Secretary of State Colin Powell to the United Nations Security Council, in which he laid out what he said was proof of Iraq's non-compliance with orders to disarm.
Black anti-war leaders gathered in New York City a day later to officially proclaim the month of February "Black Protest for Peace Month."
Black New York City Councilmen Bill Perkins (D-Manhattan) and Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn) were praised by the anti-war activist group, International A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), for transforming the traditional cultural celebration of Black History Month into "a weapon against the Bush administration's current war drive."
Perkins and Barron surrounded themselves at their press conference on Feb. 7 with several outspoken anti-war activists from International A.N.S.W.E.R; the Nation of Islam; the Martin Luther King, Jr., Peace Now Movement and Millions for Mumia, a radical group dedicated to sparing convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal from execution.
"Black history is nothing if not a history of struggle against what Dr. King called the three evils: racism, poverty and militarism. These social and societal ills, which are firmly in our thoughts during Black History Month, can all be connected to the very real need to stop this war," the proclamation states.
It also praises the "exemplary and courageous leadership" of Sharpton and other liberal black activists for providing New York City's African-American community with "the opportunity to make a difference and take a stand against the Bush administration's hysterical rush to war." (New York City's total black population was most recently estimated at 2.3 million by the U.S. Census Bureau's Census 2000.)
'Blanket' Proclamation Condemned
"Black History Month sounds like it's 'Black Anti-America Month' in New York City," said Rev. Jesse Peterson, president of the black conservative group, B.O.N.D.(Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny.). "They're once again taking away black children's opportunities for a good education and turning them away from the greatest country in the world and encouraging more anger."
The attempt by Perkins and Barron to redefine the traditional month-long celebration of African-American cultural heritage was condemned by Peterson as a "blanket attempt" to attach the anti-war label to all blacks in New York City and across America.
"They do not represent black Americans who love this country and support the president in this war," Peterson said. "They do not represent me or anyone I know that is black."
Peterson said the New York City Council's anti-war proclamation violates the First Amendment rights of all blacks in the city because they were never given the opportunity to disagree with Perkins and Barron.
Peterson accused the two black councilmen of abusing their elected positions to voice their opposition to the Bush administration's position on Iraq in such a "radical, anti-American way" that it could be considered "evil."
"I would invite these people - Bill Perkins, Charles Barron and others - to accept my offer for a one-way ticket to Iraq," Peterson said. "They can go live there and see if they would have the freedom that they have here to denounce America and yet hold office in this country."
'Get Them Before They Get Us'
Alvin Williams, co-founder and the current president and CEO of Black America's Political Action Committee (BAMPAC), said he's pleased anti-war politicians such as Perkins and Barron and the activist leaders that they align themselves with are not running the country.
"They're articulating their viewpoints on what I do think is an inevitable war with Iraq, but I certainly wouldn't over-generalize from their statements and their proclamations that they speak for all African-American New Yorkers," Williams said. "These are activists, and that's exactly what they're doing."
Williams said there are many blacks serving in the military or who have family members on active duty.
"Once this country declares war on Iraq," Williams said, "[African-Americans] are going to be right there to support our men in uniform. Period."
Williams said Americans always express "weariness" in instances of war, regardless of ideologies or political beliefs. However, he said the strategy must remain simple and straightforward.
"Get them before they get us. It's very simple," Williams said. "I would issue a proclamation on that."
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