Over the weekend, many people from all over the United States gathered in Selma, Alabama to remember and commemorate the march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge. As you recall, this was known as ‘Bloody Sunday’ in which many people suffered violently from protesting peacefully. While the images of this event will be forever etched in the minds of Americans, we have to ask ourselves the question – how far have we come since Selma?
While we have voting rights, civil rights and the first African-American president elected, we cannot act as though things are as smooth as some would have us to think. The mere fact that we have progressed in some areas means there is still work to do. That’s right; we have work to do that’s more than making speeches and shedding tears. The tragic events that happened 50 years ago means this country must still address the sin of racism, injustice, and inequality.
What has happened
I would go so far as to say that America has faulted on the words within the Declaration of Independence which says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Let’s take a look at what has happened after Selma (50 years):
• The unemployment rate for Blacks is twice as high as compared to Whites
• Blacks are incarcerated six times the rate of Whites
• The high school graduation gap between Blacks and Whites is still growing.
Depending on politicians to fix this problem isn’t the answer. Waiting on the government to establish programs will only constitute a temporary bandaid. And sitting back hearing many of our civil rights leaders give speeches and portray a victim mentality simply won’t work.
What we need to do as a society is to create our own programs that will teach positive self-esteem and self-worth. We can’t stop there. As African-Americans, we must encourage our younger generation to start businesses that will create employment opportunities and leave legacies to be passed down from generation to generation. We must register people to vote and vote on issues. So many people complain about the injustice within communities, but fail to get involved within their communities. Whilst there are some celebrities vocalizing this issue on social media, we can still make our voices heard too. Whether it’s posting something on your Facebook or making an Instagram story to publicize this issue further, we can all do our part to bring attention to this cause. Alternatively, some people might want to start social media accounts dedicated solely to this issue, they can always get themselves started with some free instagram followers to make the page look bigger, encouraging others to follow it. The more we all do, the more we can encourage the younger generations.
Fifty years after Selma, we cannot simply stay one-sided on issues. Look around to see who cares about our needs and who is willing to stand to make a difference. The Republican Party (the majority of their leaders) failed to converge on Selma over the weekend and yet they want African-Americans to see them as a party of the people. And yet there are many Democrats who like to shout about voting rights but remain silent about issues affecting African-Americans such as the prison industrial complex and high unemployment.
While we must remember our history, let’s not become to complacent and comfortable with what we have that we forget to press on and press forward towards making a difference. I applaud those who risked their lives on ‘Bloody Sunday,’ but I also believe we ought to embrace their spirit in fighting for change so that the words of the Declaration of Independence can ring true for all of God’s people, not just the select few and the haves.
Dr. Sinclair Grey III is an activist, speaker, writer, author, life coach, and host of The Sinclair Grey Show heard on Mondays at 2 p.m. on WAEC Love 860am (iHeart Radio and Tune In). Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.