Tonight I spent what ranks among the more meaningful evenings I've enjoyed in Atlanta, at its spiritual center. I sat amongst a full-house at the Historic Ebeneezer Baptist Church at the King Center, watching as local AJC op/ed stars Jay Bookman and Mike Luckovich were on hand to talk about the Real State of the Union. Their presentations were followed by Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and contemporary of Martin Luther King. His comments were somewhat spontaneous and haphazard, yet he lit up the place just by showing up.
Luckovich started the program by showing some of his more expressive cartoons which made it clear why he's syndicated to over 150 newspapers in the U.S., and why some of Georgia's conservatives don't like the AJC very much--his cartoons cut to the core of many of the issues plaguing our country. But partially due to the setting, his most appreciated was his simple, yet profound, cartoon about the passing of Coretta Scott King (registration required).
Bookman was introduced in the printed materials with his column from 2/20 (registration required). His speech, while lacking the exaggeration of Luckovich's cartoons, expanded upon a letter received from a mother of an American soldier much like Cindy Sheehan. The letter expressed joy that her son was returning home finally, but followed with regret that he had decided to sign up for another tour of duty--mainly because the opportunity and benefits available exceed those available in the private sector economy our President boasts is strong. It summed up eloquently the tragic truth that the war in Iraq is being disproportionately fought by those of meager means; that while the wealthy aren't paying the poor to take their place in the draft as occurred in the Civil War, offering bonuses of $40,000 and up to enlistees is a matter of putting food on the table to the poor, but not nearly as basic a necessity to sons of the wealthy.