Saturday, February 26, 2011





WASHINGTON ( Freedom! As the word rang across the airwaves from the now famous Tahrir ''Liberation'' Square in Egypt, Americans - especially African-Americans - readily identified with the passion of the Egyptian people.

For those who witnessed their victory after little more than two weeks of protest, words were difficult to find. Yet, empathy was the overwhelming emotion given the experience of the American civil rights movement, during which the struggle was much greater and much longer.

''As Martin Luther King said in celebrating the birth of a new nation in Ghana while trying to perfect his own, 'There is something in the soul that cries out for freedom.' Those were the cries that came from Tahrir Square, and the entire world has taken note,'' said President Barack Obama on Feb. 11 after the announcement that 30-year Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had resigned in response to the will of the Egyptian people.

''The word Tahrir means liberation. It is a word that speaks to that something in our souls that cries out for freedom. And forevermore it will remind us of the Egyptian people -- of what they did, of the things that they stood for, and how they changed their country, and in doing so changed the world,'' Obama said. ''Today belongs to the people of Egypt, and the American people are moved by these scenes in Cairo and across Egypt because of who we are as a people and the kind of world that we want our children to grow up in.''

Congratulatory statements were issued from civil rights leaders around the country, including from Martin Luther King III, president Martin Luther King III, president of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

''I join with people of good will everywhere in saluting the courageous Egyptians who participated in the nonviolent movement which has brought an end to the Mubarak dictatorship,'' King said. ''Your movement provides an inspiring, visionary example of disciplined nonviolent resistance to oppression, and my prayers and the prayers of people of good will all over the world are with you as you strive to create a vibrant democracy in Egypt.''

Widespread reports actually credited the American Civil Rights Movement, particularly the 13-month 1955-1956 Montgomery, Ala., Bus Boycott, for laying the blue print for the success in Egypt. One website,, credits a comic book, first published in 1958 by a non-violent advocacy group, the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

According to Time Magazine, The Comic Book, titled, ''The Montgomery Story'', was recently translated into Arabic by an Egyptian activist named Dalia Ziada, director of the American Islamic Congress. The book, which tells the story of the stance of heroine Rosa Parks and the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was distributed to thousands as a template for non-violent protest.

''To promote civil disobedience, Ziada last year translated into Arabic a comic-book history about Martin Luther King Jr. and distributed 2,000 copies from Morocco to Yemen,'' said a Time Magazine article published March 19, 2009.
U. S. Rep. John Lewis, an icon of the Civil Rights Movement, and a victim of violent police, described the Egyptian movement as ''nothing short of a non-violent revolution.''

Lewis said in a statement, ''The peacefulness of this transition on the streets of Cairo is a testament to the people of Egypt--to the discipline of the protestors and the military--who resisted any temptation to descend into brutality. They demonstrated so eloquently the power of peace to persistently broadcast their message of change.''

Lewis continued, ''Especially this nation which found its own beginnings in a revolutionary movement, we must always try to find ourselves on the just side of budding movements of non-violent change. We must always give credence to any effort that leads to a more truly democratic world society that values the dignity and the worth of every human being. We must always nurture and empower movements which respect freedom of the press, freedom of worship, freedom of assembly, and the inalienable right to dissent.''

As the transition began this week, the Egyptian military, an ally of the American military, announced on Sunday that it had dissolved Parliament and the Egyptian constitution as it has been known. The tensions are high because of the unknown future, but the Egyptian military is seen as a friend of the Egyptian people and is expected to work with civilians toward building a democracy.

Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-Mo.) recalled e diversity of people who stood for the quick change and the empathy of American people as they watched.

''For nearly three weeks we have watched with baited breath as Egyptians took control of their political destiny. Young and old, rich and poor, religious and secular, men and women flooded the streets demanding their voices be heard,'' he recalled. ''As the Congressional Black Caucus we understand the fight for freedom and equality, as well as the hard work that ensues to build a better future.''

The reform in Egypt, which has just begun, will be tedious but can and must be done, reminds Obama.

''By stepping down, President Mubarak responded to the Egyptian people's hunger for change. But this is not the end of Egypt's transition It's a beginning,'' President Obama said. ''I'm sure there will be difficult days ahead, and many questions remain unanswered. But I am confident that the people of Egypt can find the answers, and do so peacefully, constructively, and in the spirit of unity that has defined these last few weeks. For Egyptians have made it clear that nothing less than genuine democracy will carry the day.''




Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


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