Civil Rights 50 Years Later

American-Flag1I was three years old when the march on Selma, Alabama, now the subject of a major motion picture as well as round table discussions on public affairs programs has taken place and drastically changed the landscape of registered voter rosters across the nation.  Forty-four years later America elects its first African American president and although I disagree with his politics and he has fallen short in the leadership department, he is the Jackie Robinson of American politics, nobody can take that away from him, and skin color is no longer a criterion for either party or either political philosophy for electing a president or to any predominant office.  But when we see police departments in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York behave toward perpetrators of color in a deadly fashion, we are reminded we still have a long way to go.  The young African American men slain by Caucasian officers were far from sainthood, but that is no excuse for how the respective police departments handled it and that we have not fully fulfilled the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Alas, on Judgment Day, on the eleventh hour of mankind’s existence on planet Earth, there will be bigots somewhere, not only in the United States, but in foreign lands as well; in lands ruled by tyranny and oppression where there is nothing the common man can do.  America, for what it is worth, albeit its lofty status as the greatest country in the world is rapidly deteriorating, is still the freest country in the world and with freedom of choice, there is always hope.  Is there anything we can do?

Well for one thing, I find it shocking and appalling that the now famous Edmund Pettus Bridge, the bridge into Selma crossed by millions of protesters greeted by billy clubs and tear gas is to this day, the Edmund Pettus Bridge.  Who was Edmund Pettus?  A Confederate general, KKK, and one of the biggest racists that ever lived.  According to Wikipedia:

Edmund Winston Pettus was an American lawyer, soldier, and legislator. He served as a Confederate general during the American Civil War, during which he was captured three times. After the war he led the Alabama Ku Klux Klan and was a U.S. Senator.

I believe the time has come to rename this now famous crossing something like the Civil Rights Memorial Bridge.  A plaque can be placed at the entrance to the bridge telling visitors the truth about Edmund Pettus so future generations know and the evolution of mankind to accepting that all men regardless of race, creed, or religion are created equal and are all entitled to the inalienable rights bequeathed unto us by our creator and hence, the reason for the [proposed] name change.  Like the confederate flag, it is time to put aside icons of slavery, the KKK, and Jim Crow segregation behind and be one nation, under God, indivisible, and the freest country God ever allowed this planet to see.

Let us keep in mind that by the middle of this (twenty-first) century, the Caucasian race will no longer hold the majority and any remnant of a white supremacist still allowing his or her personal prejudices to dictate how life will be lived is going to be in for a rude awakening the day the majority baton is shifted once and for all.

Another thing all of us eighteen years of age and older can do is exercise our right to vote.  That is, after all, what Selma was all about.  As monumental as the election of Barrack Obama, the first African American president of the United States was elected, it has brought about some complacency among eligible adults of all races.  In the last election, only 36% actually showed up at the polls.  Blood was shed in the American Revolution for the right to vote out tyranny and oppression (George III) and supreme sacrifice was made in Selma to ensure men and women of color the same rights.  Naturally, I am relieved that we do not have to go through what the first African American voters in southern states did when buses and other vehicles that took them to the polling places were vandalized, unpassable literacy tests to African Americans at the time, and all the other hellish deeds performed by bigots and white supremacists did to maintain their beliefs on racial inequality, but it is equally important we never forget and we realize, equality and civil rights, like all other good on this Earth, is a journey, not a destination.

We will see in our lifetime, the first woman president and if Florida’s Marco Rubio decides to give it a shot, the first Hispanic American as well.  They are going to face the same tribulations Barrack Obama faced in his two terms as leader of the free world where people in Washington are more interested in a man of color failing than doing what is best for the nation and its people.  The same people do not want a woman or a Hispanic to succeed either; even a member of their own party.  What can we do about it?  Vote.  Vote out the inhibitors and vote in the enablers.  If you are a party loyalist like me to the Republican party, send a message to those in the party who [you] feel are not keeping up their end of the bargain.

We must always fight the war on bigotry and hatred and protect civil rights, but we must all stop fighting the Civil War in our minds.  The American Dream I blog about frequently is for all Americans of all races, creeds, and religions and it cannot move forward if it is stuck in an era where skin color mattered.



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