Stay The Course - Measurable Success Takes Time!
John E. Harmon Sr. | 8/1/2014, 6 a.m.
The journey for blacks in America has been hard. Beginning, with the long voyage, through the middle passage endured by our ancestors from Africa to America; shackled, beaten, separated from their native land and disconnected from family members, and subsequently subjected to daily regiments for someone else’s benefit. Thereafter they were forced to build, harvest and manufacture goods and services under coercion for years, producing generational wealth for others. The labor and sacrifice of my ancestors built the foundation of the United States of America and positioned her for her standing, both here and abroad, for which we pay homage every day.
The unjust and barbaric system, known as slavery was eventually undone, with more blood, sacrifice, and the nation’s treasure. The captives gained their freedom and over time began to assimilate into the mainstream with their new found liberty and the hope and expectation that they would be able to live as other Americans lived. However, living is a relative term, because standards of living, which include access to resources and opportunities, were not and are not the same for everyone. Therefore, although, no longer in bondage, my ancestors, remained captive to laws and conditions to which other Americans were not subjected. I’m sure many thought, that the playing field would never be leveled and that the status quo would prevail throughout their lifetimes, and their children’s lifetime. There were uprisings and resistance, to these inequities, and they were always met with rapid and brutal force; but to read that my ancestors had the resolve to fight against an oppressive system still encourages me today.
This is the part of the American story wherein I challenge you to use your objectivity, as best you can, to see people so fed up with being humiliated, disrespected, and undervalued, that they no longer succumbed to fear, and were willing to pay the ultimate price to change the conditions of their lives, as opposed to continuing to live under an unjust system(s).
The oppressive human conditions gave birth to leaders such as, Medgar Evers, a man that was slaughtered in his driveway due to his actions of helping blacks register to vote, and Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner, and the hundreds that came to Mississippi as activists in Freedom Summer. These are just a few of the recognizable Americans that gave their lives in an effort to make America live up to its creed of inclusion.
A few weeks ago, America, celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, legislation which served to illustrate the best and the worst of America. Why, because we saw Democrats and Republicans work in the interests of all Americans and produce laws that were purposeful and forward thinking. Conversely, this new found progress was not embraced by all and led to more senseless killings; Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and others. There was widespread over reach by government officials to demonstrate who had power and control. Notwithstanding, the tumult throughout America, the laws that were in place in 1964, were followed by new laws in subsequent years, that enabled blacks to go to the polls and vote without barriers, obtain credit, gain access to housing and schools of their choice, earn degrees, and own businesses. The period between 1964-1976 was a very progressive period for blacks; I have been told that you could quit a job, and then walk across the street and secure a new job.