In 1966 Muhammad Ali refused to be drafted for the Vietnam War. He was arrested and found guilty of draft evasion charges. Ali said, “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over.” He was stripped of his boxing titles.
In 2016 Colin Kaepernick began protesting the oppression of people of color in the United States by not standing for the national anthem. Kaepernick said, “"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder". Kaepernick’s was stripped of his pro ball career.
In 1967 there were 159 race riots that erupted across the United States due to racial inequalities and police violence on African Americans. The riots were in cities such as Buffalo, Detroit, Milwaukee, Atlanta and Rochester just to name a few. The riots are referred to as the “Long hot summer of 1967”.
In 2017 America saw dozens of race riots due to racial inequalities and police violence on African Americans. These riots were in cities such as District of Columbia, Berkeley, Portland, Atlanta and Charlottesville to name a few.
In 1968 Tommie Smith and John Carlos won gold and bronze medals, respectively, in the 200-meter running event in the Olympics. They stood on the winners stand without shoes but wearing black socks. This was to represent black poverty. Smith wore a black scarf around his neck to represent black pride and Carlos wore a necklace of beads which he said, "were for those individuals that were lynched or killed and that no-one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred. It was for those thrown off the side of the boats in the Middle Passage.”
The two athletes faced the American flag, and during the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner they bowed their heads, raised a black gloved fist, and kept them raised until the anthem had finished. Tommie Smith said, "If I win, I am American, not a black American. But if I did something bad, then they would say I am a Negro. We are black and we are proud of being black. Black America will understand what we did tonight."
We are now about to enter 2018 and quite honestly nothing has changed. Well one thing changed. Most of our generation put in a minimum amount of effort to continue the civil rights work of our fore-parents. We were too busy chasing paper and living the life that the previous generations did not have and now our children have to pick up the pieces. WE did not provide our children with a Marvin Gaye, Last Poets, King, an X, Newton, Seale or even an Angela Davis. We gave them NWA, R Kelly, Michael Jordan and Oprah. Some of us tried to give them Public Enemy, Poor Righteous Teachers and even Spike Lee but by and large these types of “activists” were shut down after their heyday.
Now my daughter is feeling the effects of this “Mantan” life my generation (including me) provided. She routinely hears the “N” word in school. There have been racial and gender issues I have to explain to her. There is ill speak towards the LGBT community and the one thing I have to tell her over and over is that this has been going on since before I was born.
You would think this would be decreasing but no. We have the most racist president in office, Donald Trump, since Ronald Reagan. Ya’ll remember Reagan right….former radio personality, actor turned FBI informant turned 40th President? The same Reagan that participated in the Iran-Contra affair with Oliver North. The same scandal which introduced crack cocaine to America via the CIA? Yeah, that Reagan.
Well, welcome the facsimile named Trump. Trump, like Reagan is an actor turned President. He has single handedly set civil rights back in this country with hate mongering, threats of war with other nations that do not look like him and now saying that Puerto Rico, “wants everything done for them.” This leads me to…….
How do I explain to my daughter…..better yet, how do WE explain to our children that between 1981 and 2016 we did not install minority leaders like a King or a Davis to assist the communities in continuing the civil rights fights. An entire generation without a leader. SMH. We could have helped minimize this mess that is now engulfing the world. We didn’t do that and now they look to Kaepernick…..like our parents looked to Ali.
I’m sorry babe. We failed your generation by not providing leaders. All we can do now is teach you how OUR parents fought back…….but it looks’s like you all have already picked up the torch or should I say taken a knee via Kaepernick. My advice to you all, become lawyers, doctors, historians. Get involved in all areas of the sciences. Take over the political arenas, the boards of major corporations. Become community leaders, state leaders even the next Obama. Most importantly, continue to take a knee like Kaepernick, learn from our mistakes and put leaders in place and one day your generation will be included in the National African American Museum in DC, like Tommie Smith and John Carlos.
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