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Towards the Second Reconstruction


The electoral coalition which brought victory to the American people in the election of President Barack Obama has the capacity to become a Movement, and indeed it has a mandate of history to do so. What the people of the United States, in a clear majority, elected was not only an affirmation of our best hopes for the future: it is important to note that it also closed the door, momentarily, to a bid for power by a much darker spirit in the American experience. This magnificent moment is ours to preserve and extend, but it will not remain so without our concerted and sustained attention and social change activism guided by both past and present experiences.


These thirteen points, with the abbreviated comments that accompany them, are meant essentially as a framework for incorporating other vital issues of concern to such a Charter. There is no order of priority herein, but an attempt to present a picture that will enable us to view these vital issues as a body in their interconnectedness, rather than just separately. To further elaborate and project remedies applicable is the purpose for movement-building, as a sustaining force.


The Charter proposal is designed to acknowledge and enhance the effective work that is already being done in many areas of Movement activity. When harnessed to the grassroots organizing tradition, the Democracy Charter can bring new energy that is transformational in its possibilities for social change in our nation. It must become a full part of the “good news” that involves and inspires our artists, poets, and creators in all cultural media to give of their talents spreading this message of hope and new possibilities.


Because of its perspective of emphasis on our Movement’s goals and objectives, the Charter is an invitation that seeks to engage a different kind of national conversation — one that is positive and purposeful in the sharing of experiences and free of the tone that too often discourages participation. This is a great moment for all of us, as we confidently take up the challenge to create a vision, shared with the people all around us, that embodies “Freedom from Fear” and expands the movement/community, built by the people all around us, as they actively embrace the ideas of the Charter they have created and proceed to translate these hope into constructive actions.


The common ingredients in all this liberating work are integrity and love.
The Democracy Charter seeks to penetrate the depths of what Dr. Martin Luther King nearly forty years ago called “the deeper malady that afflicts the American spirit, of which Vietnam is but a symptom” (Riverside Church speech, April 4, 1967). This malady which Dr. King identified has become in our lifetime a contagion the symptoms of which are all around us.


Recognizing and accepting this challenge is the key to the success of all of our collective efforts to transform our nation into a peaceful, socially conscious democracy.
In this spirit, we shall overcome!