Protests continue across the nation
Racial tension, despite predictions it would fade, increases in America, as seen in the marches and demonstrations coast to coast in reaction to grand jury rulings in Ferguson and New York Staten Island, along with a police shooting of a 12-year-old African American child within two seconds after police arrived.
May the president stay the course, speaking out daily, encouraging all Americans to take positive actions to address these racial tensions.
Statistical data of fatalities of Black Americans by police, as well as homicides by both Blacks and Whites, has generated long-needed discussions, raising the question of what else is going on to cause such great reactions to these three deaths. Could it be that the urge to undertake marches and demonstrations against injustice and blocked opportunities for young people around the world has finally found expression in the United States, as seen in such slogans as “Hands up, don’t shoot,” “End racism…Black lives matter,” “No justice, no peace,” “No justice, no healing, ” “I can’t breathe,” and “Am I next?”
Young people want to participate in our affluent society, not just live in and watch it, especially young Black men facing higher barriers to good education and training that leads to good jobs and family strength, livable neighborhoods and better lives. We are watching a new generation find its voice and identity as they join with young people around the world to answer the justice challenge and take leadership around the world against injustice as they perceive it.
This columnist has been surprised by the steady protest of demonstrators in the streets of Seattle, Portland, Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Washington, Miami, etc. Thoughts of Christmas presents in the yuletide season, New Year’s partying, football bowl games of beloved teams and other seasonal thoughts have turned instead to using America’s streets as a platform for protest.
As a columnist, community advocate and civil rights activist, I’m reminded of that Golden Era of the 1960s when young people joined wise elders to stand up and champion equality and justice for all under the nonviolence umbrella of Martin Luther King, Jr. Where are the ’60s styles of older leaders today teaching nonviolence to the young as the best strategy to achieve justice, to foster ending being mistreated on a daily basis? Under what umbrella will the fashioning of a new base for social change take place in this 21st century Civil Rights Movement?
Grandchildren of those activists have taken up the justice mantel. How long must they sustain such protests until justice takes root everywhere, as it “runs like a river” on all streets?
Nellie Stone Johnson’s “no education, no jobs, no housing” still rings true and needs to be at the center of demands for concrete signs of justice rather than just marching to vent and then lapsing back to the status quo. This newspaper continues that journey begun by its founder Cecil Newman in 1934 and picked up by Thurgood Marshall in the 1950s and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s.
What older leaders today will fan those same flames of nonviolent action to secure justice today in education, jobs and housing for families like the Martins, the Browns, the Garners, and the Rices of America? From the beating death of Emmett Till in Mississippi mid-20th century to the 21st century death of a Cleveland 12-year-old, dangers still threaten our young people’s futures.
May God continue to look over and protect those who continue to work for the hope of justice in our nation for all young people.