I will be the first to admit the Civil Rights movement fascinates me. I find it striking that common, everyday people, with singleness of purpose, rose to the occasion to fight for what they believed in. These pioneers who we now call freedom fighters put their lives on the line to bring attention to social injustice. They were true trailblazers. Some of their lives ended too early, they were not able to see the fruits of their labor and conviction. Some of them continue to fight the good fight to this day.
The title of this article asks a rhetorical question. It has been over 50 years since the beginning of the movement. Although we face many new issues, some of them are just new faces on old problems. Social injustice, racism, poverty, and educational disparity to name a few still exist. Have things changed for the better because of the movement? Without a doubt I would say yes. Is there still much work to be done? I say most definitely. Are we prepared to fight with the conviction of those who blazed the trail to effect change? That is the question we must answer.
In my opinion it is important that we understand where we came from to be better prepared for the work that needs to be done now. There are so many stories to share, more than I can put into a single article. I've share a few of them here. I encourage you to click on the links and read further.
“The first 10 or 20 Negroes were swept to the ground screaming, arms and legs flying and packs and bags went skittering across the grassy divider strip and on to the pavement on both sides,” The Times wrote. “Those still on their feet retreated. The troopers continued pushing, using both the force of their bodies and the prodding of their nightsticks.”
Joan Trumpauer of Arlington, Va., who would later marry and become Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, was a white Tougaloo student who participated in the sit-in. During a 2009 interview with The Associated Press, she recalled the "ugly roar" of the crowd.
It starts now, let's get this thing done....
Ernest R. Heyward is the Founder and President of the Marketplace for Social Awareness and Social Responsibility Inc.