I was struck by what I heard this morning when we visited Bethel Baptist Church, in Birmingham, AL. Rev. Wilder said that before the civil rights struggle "African Americans had all of the burdens of citizenship but none of the benefits." Blacks had no access to libraries, good education, basic medical care, recreation facilities...equal opportunities of all kinds were denied. Things had to change, but Rev. Richard Bryant told us on Wednesday that, "you really were jeopardizing your welfare and your life to even participate in the civil rights movement.”
The Black Church was the cornerstone of the Black community and ministers were leaders in Black communities. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, John Lewis, Roy Wilkins and others influenced me growing up. They were all very young men who led the movement. They were courageous, resilient, determined, we'll organized and willing to make unbelievable sacrifices. The men, women and children of the Civil rights Movement were true heroes.
As we embark on 2017, this country's dark history is looming over us again. How do we effectively disrupt the racism, homophobia, and misogyny which have been given renewed energy by our recent election? I am dismayed by the feelings of conflict and distrust between civil Rights pioneers and the leadership of modern day movements like Black Lives Matter. Our pioneers see a lack of discipline and know how in young leaders of today. Leaders of today's movements have said that "older people need to step aside and let them get the job done". One need only read the principles pf the Black Lives Matter Movement to know that the leaders are women who are smart, aware and serious about the task at hand. They are equipped with tools that churches and leaders of the past couldn’t imagine! They can send messages and calls to rally thousands with the press of a computer key.
Joanne Bland, who we met in Selma, AL., told us that we're all pieces of the puzzle in the struggle for civil rights, and we need to figure out where our piece fits. Pieces of the puzzle...there is room in the struggle for all...remember Sankofa.
For our White warriors...keep in mind that the white Freedom Fighters didn't think of themselves as "allies"...they were fighters on the front lines!
-- by Anita Lee