Martha Burk of the National Council of Women's Organizations recently protested the Augusta National Golf Club's failure, so far, to admit any females. Burk sent Augusta National Chairman William "Hootie" Johnson, the head of the course, a letter asking for a meeting. "Hootie" icily responded, apparently only ratcheting up Burk's determination. Burk then promised to lead a protest during the Masters tournament. She did. But the protest garnered, according to press accounts, only about 50 protesters.
Jesse Jackson of Rainbow/PUSH promised to attend, and pre-protest he issued the following statement: "I plan to be there. I'd rather they open the club to women, but it's part of our mission to fight for people's rights."
But Jesse Jackson was a no-show. Why?
Did the Reverend wisely consider the issue trivial, since polls show that most women don't care about this "issue"? Did Jackson wisely consider the failure of a private club to admit females low on the list of priorities, badly trailing, say, the high percentage of today's black children born outside of wedlock, or the over 50 percent inner-city dropout rate, or the devastating amount of black-on-black crime?
No. Jackson failed to show because Burk asked him not to. According to the Orlando Sentinel, apparently Burk told Jackson that she wanted only female protest leaders. "We told Jesse we were happy to have his support, but we wanted this to be a woman-led event," said Burk. Sports Illustrated said, "Burk was more worried that the Reverend Jesse Jackson would be there. She wanted to portray the Augusta membership issue as a question of discrimination against women, being fought by a coalition of women's groups. She was concerned that if Jackson turned up, he'd be the story."
Hold the phone. Suppose Martin Luther King Jr. limited his 1960s civil rights work to only blacks. During the '60s, many white civil rights workers bravely came down South to help with black voter registration. Both white and black civil rights workers lost their lives during the struggle.
Founding Father Ben Franklin established the first abolitionist society in Philadelphia in 1787. Speaking to the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage, on Nov. 9, 1789, Benjamin Franklin said, "Slavery is such an atrocious debasement of human nature, that its very extirpation, if not performed with solicitous care, may sometimes open a source of serious evils." In 1790, Franklin petitioned Congress, scolding them about the festering scar of slavery.