2002-02-09 / Letters

It’s A Mental Thing Too

It's A Mental Thing Too

Dear Editor,

Can we in good conscience continue to sit idle and look to others to resolve the problems faced by those in underprivileged communities? If Martin Luther King Jr., had not taken on the challenges of bigotry and racial injustice, would we still be riding on the back of the bus? King's resistance to the violent acts inflicted upon black people at the hands of a prejudicial society, for which segregation meant separate and unequal, fortunately, resulted in sweeping legislative mandates, which benefited all African-Americans across the nation. His methodology was instrumental in procuring many of the civil liberties we take for granted today. So, as we reflect on historical achievements of people like King during the commemoration of Black History Month, let's each pause and reach within ourselves for answers to the current conditions plaguing many of our local communities. In order to do this, we need to go back to the root, which has always been the family. The importance of this was underscored last year, with the US Senate's designation of October 2001 as Family History Month. Part of the resolution read "…it is the family, striving for a future of opportunity and hope that reflects our nation's belief in community, stability and love: whereas the family remains an institution of promise, reliance and encouragement." The essence of these observances, should act as catalysts for positive exchange of not only dialogue, but action.

Two of the most notable events, which come to mind: the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott, which spurred a wave of similar boycotts throughout the south and Brown v. the Board of Education in Little Rock, Arkansas, which integrated the public schools; are both vivid reminders of the crucial lessons learned from King and other courageous leaders, as well as ordinary people who fought in the struggle. Unity, cooperation and a common goal; the essential components of their successes, are still the strongest weapons we have to guard our families against what threatens to destroy our universal family.

The battle to eradicate indifference, complacency and lack of education, is seemingly within our control, if the foundation has been laid. If our minds are not open to the infinite possibilities of the future, we will remain enslaved and never really be free. Black history is not just our history, it's America's story of the brutality and indignities suffered and ultimately overcome by people of color through sheer force of will.

However, its recognition should not have to begin and end in the month of February, it has to be apparent everyday in the way we live our lives; hold our heads high and pursue our dreams. Black History Month is a state of mind.

Can we ever forget the images of violence reeked on those striving for equality? In ignoring the past, we dishonor ourselves and the brave men and women, who initiated a movement that caused our government to acknowledge the true power of unification and perseverance.

JEAN RICHARDSON


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