Let’s Have the Whole Truth and Nothing But The Truth

Posted on January 31, 2011 by


Political Theater in the Reading of The Constitution Unacceptable

By Elmetra Patterson

Louisville, MS

January 11, 2010


My family, friends and I were appalled at the notion of congress, last Thursday, January 6, 2011, to read to the American people a ‘full and complete’ reading of the Constitution of the United States from the floor of the House of Representatives which was not full and complete. This reading was orchestrated by the new Republican majority in the chamber. We are furious that they choose to skip the Constitutional parts about African American not being considered ‘whole’ people/citizens, about women’s inequality and a few other items. Those are very important parts of our shared history. How dare they edit our founding document as they perform political theater? It seems that many want to deny that the United States had a ‘rocky’ start and that improvements have had to be made via movements and amendments.

It seems that the Tea Partiers pushed the new majority into this reading. It appears that the Tea Partiers are wanting to “take their country back” and return to “God knows what,” which is frightening to me. Therefore, if the Constitution is read, we need to read what was in the “full” Constitution that they want to return back to. I am not as pleased with the Founding Fathers (which does not make me unpatriotic) as they are, as to some of the things that are in the Constitution, but I am pleased by many of the amendments that have been added to make the Constitution a more just document for all of the citizens, as stated in the 14th Amendment, of the United States of America.

We thought that the congressmen would read the constitution and then follow up with the amendments. The ‘confederates’ want to continue to wave the rebel flag as to not deny that part of their history. If they were attempting to be politically correct, they are not concerned about being politically correct when they wave that flag which insults others. Why does this body led by republicans want to deny our history – that we were counted as three-fifths human – yet later amended in the 14th amendment to make us whole?

As an African American, I want that history to remain as it is and not ‘sugar coated’. I want my children to know that we (our ancestors with the help of others) fought long and hard with blood, sweat and tears to get that amendment ratified along with the 13th, and 15th – which directly affect us. I want women to be reminded that ‘we’ve come a long way’ for equality and we must continue to fight the battle for equality – as in the 19th amendment. I personally lost some sweat and tears to help get the right to vote which was not passed until 1965. Even though the Voters Rights Act of 1965 was passed there remained much to be done to get it into action while I was still in college. History should not be changed in any words to appease anybody or any period in history. As noted in recent announcement that Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is being edited to remove language that is offensive, misreading the Constitution causes it to lose its message, its history and its true context. We are not to be ashamed of our history but proud that we have made progress to correct injustices that affect all of us.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”