Fifty Years- Free Write Reflection and Some Perspective

Love always wins over hate. No preamble. Let's jump into it.

It has been fifty years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For some reason, many people thinks 50 years is very long, and expect massive amounts of change in 50 years. The people who lived through the Civil Rights Act -including some who participated in the marches and protests that led to that legislation- are still part of today's cohort of leaders. They may be slowly aging out, but they are still around and active ( See: Jesse Jackson, Rep, John Lewis, Rep, John Conyers, etc.). Even more, although the country continuously attempts  to move itself away from the legacy of slavery,  there are still people alive who knew enslaved Americans. You don't have to go far to hear a story that starts, "My grandparents were born slaves." This is not to say America has made sufficient progress over the last fifty years and provide an excuse for the state of race relations today. It is to say that time does not move as fastly as we think it does.

History books provide us with a cliff note version of movements. Anyone invested in the struggle for equality needs to understand it may be slow and it may take time. Just look at the founding of this country: it took almost 150 years from the Pilgrims escape for religious freedom to the first formal acts of American Revolution. After fomenting for ten years, it took another 8 years of war for the republic to actually exist on its own, and it was not for another 5 years that the Constitution would be written and ratified. Save for maybe the woman's suffrage movement, change has never come quick in this county. And even woman's suffrage took about 80 years. 

Over the past month I have seen a renewed interest in the movement and engagement for Civil Rights from my peers. To be honest, because of a long life of self-curating my peer group, I have always had friends with an interest in civic engagement and the fight for our rights. And while it is a beautiful thing to see people engaged, it is hard to think of what prolonged engagement will look like. For I assure you, change will not come swiftly with the installment of body cameras to crack down on police brutality. Change will not occur with only a few publicized trials. These are all important parts of the movement, but it will take a longer sustained movement and culture revolution to see change.

2015 will mark 150 years since the end of formalized slavery in America. If we use this timeline in accordance with the establishment of this republic, this is just the start of war. There is a long way to keep going. Get ready for compromises. Get ready to define your allies. And yes, even get ready for familial alliances to be divided, for there are tories amongst us (loyal to the status quo). Also, get ready to fight as fiercely as if you want the changes to come tomorrow. That is the only way the difference will happen. Keep your marching shoes on. Keep your conscience ready.


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