Less then fifty years ago poll taxes and “literacy” test were used to deny African-American’s the right to vote. These poll taxes ensured that the poorest citizens were barred from voting because they couldn’t afford the fee, the “literacy” tests were so blatantly biased that even well educated people (pastors and professors) were doomed to fail. On March 7th 1965, roughly 600 peaceful protesters started on a march from Selma Alabama to the capitol at Montgomery to put their case before the Governor. At the Edmund Pettus Bridge they were met by state troopers and told to turn around. When a leader among the marchers asked for a moment for him and his fellow protester to kneel and pray, the state troopers swept through the crowd on horse back, with tear gas and clubs, brutally attacking the marchers. The event became known as “Bloody Sunday” and it is an infamous and shameful moment in our nations history.
The News broke during the ABC evening movie. By a wonderful twist of fate, the television audience across the country found that that evenings airing of “The Judgment at Nuremberg” was interpreted by horrible images of intolerance and violence within their own country. The response was incredible, support poured into Selma from all over the country, and the world, representative from every denomination and faith came join in another march to Montgomery.
On March 21, 1965, 8000 people gathered at the Brown Chapel in Selma, Alabama to send off the second march. Just a few months later the Voting Rights Act was signed into law banning the practices of discrimination that barred people from their greatest right and most important duty as residents of the United States.
It seems like it often takes seeing the worst of what our actions or apathy leads to spark change. The very least we can do is to never forget our past and the sacrifices that have been made for equality. And to always remember that the fight isn’t over, there’s still so much to be done.
So there’s you’re this day in history.
When words fail, my pen still moves to write
and spills its inky blood to purge the white.
When silence is too much, I have to speak.
I cannot sit with ringing nothing keep.
I have to fill the voids with nonsense stuff
and mark and bark till I have had enough.
I’m a glutton and a coward here
alone with my own thought, I turn to fear.
So I must shout at ghosts and fill a page
with marks, and marks, and marks, of churlish rage
I battle blankness, I must fill it up
with nothing things, and pointless, petty, guff
If in days when all is rotten
You find yourself in bed
And bitter thoughts, too hard to mention
Are pounding in your head.
Just think back to time before time
Cling to thought before it was thought
Hold them there is sweet detention
And forget what you forgot.
The legacy of racism is long reaching and its affects can be more subtle then we realize.
The following moving love letter was written by American World War II veteran Brian Keith to Dave, a fellow soldier he met and fell in love with in 1943 while stationed in North Africa, on the occasion of their anniversary. It was reprinted in September of 1961 by ONE Magazine – a…
This so beautiful I can’t stand it.