It is my conviction that the recent unrest surrounding the shooting of the unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Mo., is a reminder of the enduring American dilemma — finding for the black man “a place consistent with the national heritage of freedom and equality.”
Since the Civil War, which was in its waning months 150 years ago today, America has been wrestling with its enduring dilemma of what to do with the black man as if the black man was the problem? That problem, in essence, was racism.
To be sure, as a nation, we’ve come a mighty long way. We know that progress has been made, realizing that America’s promise of true equality and equal justice remains “a glass half-full.”
As a society, after considering where some people live, how they look, how they dress, we sometimes view them as having less value, as Americans who don’t count as much. We tend to forget that America’s history has evolved from all democratic groups, enriching each other.
But, now more than ever, we, as Americans, ought to rededicate ourselves to making America live up to its creed, while continuing the American journey toward that “more perfect union.” In the words of civil rights icon John Lewis, “We must never, ever give up on our march toward complete freedom.”
Now, more than ever, we need to respect and embrace our differences, letting those differences help “shape all our lives,” There is a need for more interracial cooperation and all people of good will to come together to renew the American dream of justice and equality and to continue that dream that was so much a part of the King legacy.
Now, more than ever, if you are “someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people,” then let’s join forces and become those new “north stars,” giving voice to the hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow.
Now, more than ever, all Americans should be experiencing more outrage at the systemic racial disparities on the nation’s educational, economic and social and criminal justice systems — consequences of generations of inequality. We all know that those disparities exact a heavy price and have a profound impact on the lives they touch.
As Americans of all stripes, we can never lose sight of the fact that we’re all in this together, and we must come to believe that “the welfare of one group can only be maintained through assuring the welfare of another.”
Going forward, it’s time we start to value each life equally as important as the next. For some of us, that may require more attention to be given to what goes on in our minds, making sure we are free of any social, racial and class biases.
Due to our nation’s history of slavery, Jim Crow, and racism, there is still a great need for reconciliation, dialogue and healing, ensuring that we continue to make progress on the question of race and justice, while continuing to develop bonds of community.