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2005-08-22

"If Bush Is Right, Martin Luther King Jr. Was Wrong"–Activist Rev. Peter Johnson Speaks at Camp Casey

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We play a speech by longtime activist and former SCLC staffer, the Rev. Peter Johnson who says, "War is not the answer. Only love can conquer hate. If Bush is right, then Marvin [Gaye] was wrong. If Bush is right, then Mohandas Gandhi was wrong. If Bush is right, Henry David Thoreau was wrong. If Bush is right, Martin Luther King Jr. was wrong. If Bush is right, Jesus of Nazareth was wrong." [includes rush transcript]

Throughout the weekend, the number of supporters for Cindy Sheehan continued to grow. African American leaders, including veteran civil rights activist Reverend Joseph Lourey who co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, came from Dallas and Georgia bringing mothers of soldiers killed in Iraq and other antiwar protesters. These newcomers took to the stage at a new camp site dubbed "Camp Casey 2" closer to Bush’s estate on land donated by a local resident. This is longtime activist and organizer, the Rev. Peter Johnson.

  • The Rev. Peter Johnson, longtime activist and organizer and a former staffer of the SCLC.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Back at Camp Casey, the number of supporters for Cindy Sheehan nevertheless continued to grow. African American leaders, including veteran civil rights activist, Reverend Joseph Lourey, who co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, came from Dallas and Georgia, bringing mothers of soldiers killed in Iraq and other anti-war protesters, as well. These newcomers took to the stage at a new campsite dubbed Camp Casey II, closer to Bush’s property, on land donated by a local resident. This is long-time activist and organizer, Peter Johnson.

REV. PETER JOHNSON: This is amazing. We’re right in Dubya’s backyard. You know, Cindy had to go to California because her mother had a stroke. I was here last week, and I brought Cindy greetings from Rosa Parks and Mrs. King. Mrs. King had a stroke also and asked that you all would keep her in your prayers and remember her. She is the widow of our 20th century Moses.

Because Cindy had to go to California, the movement for peace did not go with her. In 1967 and in 1968, Dr. King asked us to move around the country and begin to organize the Poor People’s Campaign to go to Washington. On April 4, 1968, Dr. King had gone down to Memphis, Tennessee, to help garbage workers. Standing on the balcony on the Lorraine Motel, talking to Ben Branch, a shot rang out and our Moses fell. The Poor People’s Campaign continued. We dried our eyes, buried our leader and went on to Washington and established Resurrection City. Because Cindy has gone to California does not mean that the movement for peace should end. We must dry our eyes and continue to work for peace.

Now, you know, if George W. Bush is right, that great philosopher from Detroit, Michigan was wrong. That’s Marvin Gaye, y’all. There’s no need to escalate. War is not the answer, ’cause only love can conquer hate. If Bush is right, then Marvin was wrong. If Bush is right, Mohandas K. Gandhi was wrong. If Bush is right, Henry David Thoreau was wrong. If Bush is right, Martin Luther King, Jr. was wrong. If Bush is right, Jesus of Nazareth was wrong.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Tell it like it is, Peter.

PETER JOHNSON: I tend to believe the great voices of peace throughout history was right, and this voice from this little hamlet here in Texas is absolutely wrong. The world is watching what you do here. It is important that you be calm, that you be peaceful, but you be firm. My grandmother say, "Fight them ’til hell freezes over, and when hell freezes over, fight them on the ice."

AMY GOODMAN: Dallas Reverend Peter Johnson, former staff member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

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