Yeah, the Daily Beast has it right.
This month, two anniversaries seem to harmonize with one another. Fifty years ago, civil-rights protestors marching from Selma to Montgomery were rallying and singing and sometimes bleeding and dying for freedom. And 30 years ago, a feel-good anthem sung by rock stars to fight African hunger was climbing the charts. Moving from “We Shall Overcome” in 1965 to “We Are the World” in 1985 highlights African-Americans’ miraculous leap forward in those two decades.
But the We-are-the-Worlding of protest also reflects a decline from a high-stakes politics of seriousness to a politics frequently fraught with celebrity-inflected idiocy and posturing. In 1965, the Reverend Martin Luther King called on priests, ministers, and rabbis for moral authority. Today, activists yearn for Brangelina’s celebrity super-couple glamour infusion.
Amid many momentous anti-segregation protests, Selma framed the moral issue starkly. Televised images of deputized white hooligans beating nonviolent blacks and whites brought Southern oppression into American living rooms. By mid-March, President Lyndon Johnson had launched the Voting Rights Act to combat Southern voter harassment by singling out jurisdictions where fewer than half the citizens voted.