Barack Obama: We Shall Overcome

Barack Obama: We Shall Overcome

Sen. Barack Obama spoke from the pulpit of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s church here on Sunday and drew a clear link between Dr. King’s vision of an America free of segregation and racism and the central tenet of his own presidential campaign, a call for unity after years of partisan rancor and division. “If Dr. King could love his jailer, if he could call on the faithful who once sat where you do to forgive those who set dogs and fire hoses upon them, then surely we can look past what divides us in our time, and bind up our wounds and erase the empathy deficit that exist in our hearts,” Obama said.

Obama spoke to more than 2,000 people in the large, modern sanctuary of Ebenezer Baptist Church, across the street from the original structure where King and his father preached. King’s oratory was twinned with a recognition of the need for hard struggle, and so, Obama said, would be his own. “Dr. King understood that unity cannot be won on the cheap,” he said.

Obama’s appearance carried the symbolism of the first African-American candidate with a serious chance for the presidency, addressing the church of the civil rights giant whom he often echoes. The huge crowd, which included King’s sister, embraced Obama with warm applause and shouted “amens,” and swayed in unison with him as We Shall Overcome was sung by the church’s 90-member choir.

Barack Obama Speaks at Ebenezer Baptist Church

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Farewell, My Little Coney Island Honey

I began composing this post almost a month ago, but haven’t finished until today. It has evoked feelings of melancholy and sadness. So, it’s goodbye this year to Coney Island’s down-at-heel glamour. The area had its real glory days in the 1940s. But one of the very last pockets of New York City to have dodged the ruthless post-Giuliani scrub-down and clean-up is about to change forever this year. Brooklyn’s Coney Island, The People’s Playground, is going the way of Times Square and other Disney-fied city districts, with a billion-dollar redevelopment incorporating hedge fund-friendly luxury apartments, a Las Vegas-style megahotel and an indoor water park.If you’ve never included Coney Island on one of your Big Apple jaunts, go now! The wrecking ball is already swinging. Goodbye down-at-heel faded glamour and decaying paintwork. Goodbye boardwalk dive-bar toilet so repulsively fragrant and so degenerate that it appears to have sprung directly from a dreadful nightmare. Coney Island has been a seaside resort since the end of the Civil War, long before its neighboring creek was filled in to join it to the mainland. The independently owned iconic Wonder Wheel and Astroland’s vintage Cyclone rollercoaster, celebrating its 80th birthday this summer, are staying, but almost everything else is up for grabs or demolition.Many New Yorkers fear things will never be quite the same again. Coney Island is, in its way, as much an icon of the city as the Chrysler building. But it’s an icon that’s infused with the essence of classic, dirty New York energy and chaos, a New York blend of flash and edge which has long faded elsewhere in town.

Farewell, My Coney Island Darling

Coney Island: A Photographic Essay

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