Tag Archives: segregation

After Independence Day

When the United States sought its independence, it created something new, but hardly perfect. Perfection requires that we continue to strive, not rest on our laurels.

The US Constitution enabled the continued practice of slavery, and in the process virtually guaranteed the Civil War. When the Civil War was followed by Reconstruction, it virtually guaranteed that instead of reconciliation, the nation would suffer from bitter hatred; we saw the Ku Klux Klan and the Jim Crow laws.

Today we have the issues surrounding the battle flag of the Confederate States.

It’s time to steer things in a better direction.

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First: The Civil War is over. Many of those who fought were able to make their peace. Why can’t we?

Second: Most of those who fought for the Confederacy were not slaveholders; many were not even property owners. Generally the wealthy plantation owners did not fight as privates or sergeants—that was the role for the common folk who believed they were fighting for their homeland. It doesn’t take a great detective to figure out who convinced them of that. The white commoners, like the black slaves were just one more tool.

Third: Many black and white people today look back at their ancestors and want to take pride in their bravery in Viet Nam, Korea, and even the segregated military of the Second World War. It’s only natural to be proud if you find out you’re descended from a hero like Alvin York or Doris Miller.

Fourth: Great-great-grand pappy Jedidiah who fought as a corporal at Gettysburg is dead and gone. It doesn’t matter which side he fought on, it’s over, and as anyone who has experienced war will tell you, the best part is when it’s over and you go home. He would probably tell you, “Let it go.”

We are a stronger and better nation through Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Colin Powell, and Barack Obama. You may not agree with them individually, but history will not deny that the changes they brought about was important and good—even if some individuals do.

John Tyler, the tenth American president sided with the Confederacy, served in its congress, and was the only president to be proclaimed an enemy of the state.

It’s time to relegate history to history. Put the confederate flag away,

 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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As with most historical figures, as time passes, our recollection of The Reverend Doctor King changes. It’s sometimes hard to believe that so few years ago we had legally enforced segregation. That the Pentagon had separate bathrooms for blacks and whites because of Virginia law. That Norfolk shut down its public school system rather than integrate. That Rosa Parks was arrested for keeping her seat on a public bus.

Dr. King brought these ugly facts to the forefront, but did so in a way that made it impossible to ignore.

We all think of ourselves as the “good guys” and prior to the 1960s, equality was not something we wanted to think about. Whites weren’t biased, it’s just that blacks and whites were seen as different, or so we wanted to believe.

It’s true, blacks and whites are different. Not because of being black or white, but because each of us is an individual and every individual is different. It took us a long time to figure this out.

Today we look around and congratulate ourselves on making a lot of progress. We have a black president starting his second term. Neighborhoods are integrated. Mixed families are becoming more common.

However, making progress is different from reaching a goal.

It’s because Columbus found land in the New World that he’s renowned, not because he set sail. Armstrong wasn’t the first astronaut to head to the moon, he was the first to actually get there. Progress is good, but it’s only a step in the right direction.

We’re making progress, but we need to continue.

Today we may see Dr. King as an icon – an ideal. Like Washington, Lincoln, and so many others, in life he was not a marble statue but just another individual. The difference is that people like Washington, Lincoln, and King took on the challenges, took the heat, and told us what we needed to hear, whether we wanted to hear it or not. King was a man, not an icon, but that’s what makes what he did so monumental. He stood up when others feared to.

Celebrate tomorrow as a day that marks one more step forward for humanity.