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Will the Real Leaders Stand Up

May 3, 2009

In 1787  the framers of the Constitution didn’t abolish slavery, they wrote it into law.  Determining for the purposes for taxation and representation that we were only worth or considered 3/5ths of a person. Over time as our country progressed there were various means and ways to bring and hold people down, hold them back,  which led to compensation, from the jim crow laws to the 40 acres and a mule.  Our history is filled with so many things good and bad but it also include the ones who fought for civil rights that are no longer here today. Real leaders who didn’t know at the time they were paving the way for a generation of individuals who would pick up and carry the mantle for those who believed that civil rights was every ones rights and they refused to back down, turn away, or stand down. They are the ones I think of when someone has the audacity to say stand down.  

 

We are carried on the shoulder of giants who fought against suppression to later remove the shackles that bound us together.  They stood up opened a door that we all still follow till this day. A door that doesn’t  recognize color, but character, and doesn’t recognize party designations,  or affiliations. This door is on the path of equality traveled by people like Victoria Gray who walked through it  so long ago.  I love her story, her words, her message, because through her actions she inspired so many people based on the belief we are all equal with the underlying message that when things don’t go your way, when you get turned away, sometimes you just have to dig down deep, go out there with your message and just plain fight for it..  Secretary of State Clinton said it best: “Never listen to anyone who says you can’t or shouldn’t go on”.

 So when I read the words of individuals, past civil rights leaders describe how they were turned away time and time again when  all they wanted, all they attempted, was  to utilize the chance to cast a vote ,participate in the election process, have fair and equal representation, and to be able to have a say. The impact of that statement is what ties us together because the foundation of the message, the essence of the words didn’t just cross the race barrier, it crossed time. Because today we are still utilizing that same theme and narrative to motivate to keep people pushing forward. The words of Mrs Gray..what is so interesting about her words is that she told a story on the various ways they were denied the chance to have there voice heard within the Democratic party.  From moving meetings, false locations and locked doors. Sometimes it seems history attempts to repeat itself.  But back then, so many knew something that others could not see because they refused to stop looking to the past for present excuses, when they should of been looking for solutions for our future to find the answer. We learn from our past to keep from making past mistakes.

Which brings me to today. Somewhere along the way we have become lost.  The organizations tasked to lead the charge on civil rights. Activists.  So many have fallen into the belief that they are above there own cause.  They know longer speak to benefit those they help, but now begin to speak to benefit themselves. One of the best aspects of this country is the fact we are a diverse nation with people from all backgrounds and way of life.  Some sacrifice all just to live in a place that promotes the American dream. The belief that if you work for it, the sky is the limit on what you can accomplish. They understood or understand and appreciate what those have done to get us here, but we still have so far to go.  Yes, we live in a big tent, one that has individuals of all shades of color, from all backgrounds because what is important, is the  inherent belief that we may be divided by race, gender and demographics but when it comes to equality, united we stand. Because until the day comes when we all have the same opportunities available to us, change will not be considered achievable, it will be considered a distant memory.  This is the first time I have ever witnessed so big a divide within this country as I do now since someone decided to use *race* as a means to send a message or get a message across.  That I see so much divisiveness, negativity and race baiting. This defeats the message of ALL activists fighting for a cause for equal rights, against suppression, and for civil rights.

But what happens when the message is lost?  When we begin to see the stereotypes found in reports like the one from the Department of Homeland Security that is doing exactly what we fought to overcome.  Labels, false accusations, persecution. This affects everyone no matter what color they may be. We may be different on the outside but it’s what is on the inside that counts. We need to really take a hard look at who and what we have in place and act accordingly. Case in point, there is a article on the New York Times in regards to race relations in this past election.  A key point within this article caught my attention:

 

Kevin Chaison, a 39-year-old telemarketer in St. Louis who is black, said he used to feel invisible. “I get more of a sense that I belong now,” Mr. Chaison said. “Now I’m getting more of a, ‘Hey, how you doing?’ than I was a year ago.”

 

One of the points I noticed is that we should not require validation to come from anyone. We can be inspired, we can be motivated, but we cannot be defined, no matter what color you are, by any one person.  Right now, we need leaders, true leaders who have the ability to look at me or anyone else and not define me or anyone else by any political designation but as Americans wanting what is best for this country. We don’t all suppose to agree or have the same opinon or constantly walk lock step together. As diverse as we are as a nation. Is as diverse our ideas should be about finding solutions for it.

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